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Brothers Get Your Prostate Tested

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
Periodically readers ask me to republish a column. When it comes to reminding brothers to get tested for ‘PROSTATE CANCER’ I’m happy to oblige. Prostate cancer kills an estimated 42,000 American men annually, and it is one of the toughest cancers to treat once it begins to spread.  It is the second-leading cancer killer among American men overall – just above lung cancer. Black men have the highest rate of prostate cancer worldwide. More Black men die of prostate cancer than other groups.  Get out of the “stubborn male” mode, not seeking proper preventive care, merely extends an invitation to cancer.

Like high blood pressure, prostate cancer is also a “silent killer” – it usually lurks in a man’s body without symptoms. Although the prostate gland may be low key, when it acts up, it doesn’t half step. So for you brothers over forty, this means you could be walking around feeling fine while the disease festers. The disease is usually well on its way before you notice something is wrong.

Symptoms to look out for are hesitant or weak urine streams, a feeling of an un-emptied bladder, and an increased need to “take a leak.” Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from prostate cancer. If you are forty-five or older, make an annual appointment with your doctor for a prostate exam. An examination should include a prostate-specific antigen (fPSA) test and digital rectal exam (DRE).

Empty your bladder before bedtime; drink plenty of water; go easy on spicy acidic foods and drinks (e.g.  hot sauce, citrus-fruit juices and soda pop); keep your stress level down; exercise, eat a healthy diet; don’t smoke.

Take responsibility for your health. Prostate cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Prostate cancer survivors include actors Sidney Poitier; Louis Gossett, Jr; former D.C. Mayor, Marion Barry, singer-actor Harry Belafonte, actor Robert De Niro, NFL Hall of Famer Len Dawson and former New York Yankees Manager Joe Torre.

New studies show African-American men could be spared the expense and trauma of prostate biopsies.  Nearly 75 percent of the prostate biopsies that both black and white men get are unnecessary.  A new twist on the standard way to predict prostate cancer risk appears to offer African-American men a much-needed, improved accuracy in detecting the disease.

The PSA, a more sensitive test for cancer risk than the standard PSA test men get as part of routine physicals, won Food and Drug Administration approval two years ago, based on a national trial of 773 men who had both tests as well as prostate biopsies.

This earlier trial showed that PSA detected 95 percent of the cancers.  It also reduced unnecessary prostate biopsies that men would have routinely after the standard PSA test.

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