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Your Prostate Cancer Risk

By on April 28, 2013
PROSTATE

Fellow black men, there is a ten thousand pound elephant in the room and its name is Prostate Cancer. 

Our fathers ignored it and our father’s father perhaps, did too. No one wants to talk about this disease. Well, it should be talked about  and talked about often by men in the black community. Alarmingly, Prostate Cancer is the fourth most common cause of death of the black man. African American men are at a significantly higher risk of developing prostate cancer than our white counterparts. In fact, nearly one in five of us will be diagnosed and sadly five percent will die from this dreaded disease. This is due mainly to most of our cases presenting with late stage/advanced progression from lack of screening or simply ignoring symptoms. This is unacceptable.

In the early stages of this disease there are often no noticeable signs and symptoms. If symptoms occur they could include but not limited to following:

-Frequent and painful urination
-Urgency to urinate but small production
-Blood in urine
-Painful ejaculation
-Bone pain in hips and vertebrae (advanced cases)

Because of the above facts we should get screened earlier than the medical guidelines suggest. At age 40 we should start annual Prostate Specific Antigen Testing (PSA) along with our routine physical where a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) is also performed.
A PSA screening is simply a blood sample drawn and sent to the lab to measure antigen levels in the prostate. The DRE is a bit more uncomfortable. Your doctor will use a lubricated, gloved finger to gently feel the surface of your prostate gland for lumps or other abnormalities. For me, it was more so mentally uncomfortable than physical. Although, I did not like it, I realized the testing could very well save my life.

Very important: This should be done earlier than age 40 if there is a history of ANYONE in your family with the disease.
Treatment can include radiation therapy, surgical treatments, hormonal treatments, cryotherapy, chemotherapy, herbal therapy, alternative forms of medicine and combinations of these therapies. The exact treatment that you will undergo will be dependent on the exact stage of cancer and your physician’s advice.

Prostate cancer, like many diseases are not necessarily a death sentence. Although, the initial diagnosis can be devastating the fact remains that many black men live long normal lives because the proper steps were taken. Now is the time to talk to your fathers and sons and anyone in and out of your community about Prostate cancer; men and women alike. We must spread the word. We must get this elephant out of the room and stop leading in the negative statistics.

 

Maurice T. Judkins is a Radiation Therapist and Contributor to healthyblackmen.org.

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