Prostate Cancer Awareness
Will Save Lives


Tampa Tribune - Saturday, September 20, 2003

  By Robert J. Samuels, chairman of the Florida Prostate Cancer Network, and the founding chairman of the National Prostate Cancer Coalition

What do former New York Mayor Rudy Giulani, former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole, former NASCAR champion Richard Petty, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Yankees Manager Joe Torre, FBI Director Robert Mueller III and FSU President T.K. Wetherelll have in common?

  Each has had enough guts to speak up about his experience with prostate cancer - a sensitive health subject that most men avoid like the plague.  When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer nine years ago, there were few men willing to be publicly identified with the disease.

President Bush has proclaimed September National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a month in which 1,330 men in Florida are expected to hear the words, "You have prostate cancer."  In this country, a new case of prostate cancer is diagnosed about every three minutes; approximately 221,000 additional cases each year.  It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American men - one in six eventually develop it; almost 29,000 American men lose their lives to prostate cancer each year - one death every 20 minutes.  In Florida in 2003, almost 16,000 men will be diagnosed as having it, and more than 2,000 will die from it.

This year, more cases of prostate cancer in men under age 65 are expected than the combined number of cases of leukemia, Hodgkins's disease and brain tumors in men of all ages.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include: difficulty starting urination; urinating frequently during the night; painful urination; and bone pain.  Often there are no symptoms, which is why screening becomes so important.  The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system.  It is about the same size and shape as a walnut and weighs only about one ounce.

One of the reasons men don't want to talk about prostate cancer is the fear that the disease and treatment for it can affect the patient's sexual capability.  The prostate produces the fluid that carries semen.

Several states have passed legislation mandating prostate cancer education awareness programs, which have proved effective in saving lives.  Unfortunately, although Florida is number 2 in the nation with new cases, we have been unsuccessful in getting a prostate cancer education bill passed by our state Legislature.

Fortunately for families in the Tampa Bay area, men and women can find out the truth about prostate cancer and other health issues at a day-long Town Hall Meeting on Men's Health next Saturday.  The even runs from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Tampa Convention Center. Admissions FREE, but preregistration is required.  Register online at or call (813) 806-1800.

This town hall meeting on men's health issues will provide detailed information about prostate and colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and hypertension.

The town hall meeting is a collaborative community partnership with volunteers, local government, hospitals, healthcare providers, churches and civic and community organizations to help address these major health issues.

Don't delay, get tested and stay alive.  Don't let the uncomfortableness of the subject of prostate cancer keep you from getting educated.  Being informed can save your life or the life of someone you love.


Florida Prostate Cancer Network is a Florida non-profit organization
Federal Tax ID 59-3545266
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