Detecting Prostate Cancer Early


The Tampa Tribune
Monday, February 4, 2002 - Editorial Section

  Men, common wisdom has it, don't like to talk about anything medical when it applies below the belt and above the knees. That's why it's sometimes so difficult to convince husbands, fathers and sons that when they reach a certain age -- 40 for blacks, 50 for whites -- they need to undergo a prostate examination as part of there annual physicals.

No one knows that better than Bob Samuels, a retired banker in Tampa who is an eight-year survivor of the disease. Samuels has made it his mission to spread the word about the importance of men getting checkups -- particularly a simple blood test called a PSA -- even if they are having no symptoms.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in males nationwide. Some 15,000 Floridians were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001; 2,400 died from the disease.

The key to survival is early detection. The five-year survival rate for men who have prostate cancer detected in an early state is 95 percent, compared with 34 percent when diagnosis occurs later.

A bill pending before the Legislature would establish a Prostate Cancer Awareness Program within the state Department of Health. An upcoming African American Men's Health Forum on Feb. 23 at Hillsborough Community College will offer free screenings. Both endeavors merit broad support.


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