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Prostate Screening Can Save Lives

Father’s Day has just been celebrated, and among the many wonderful gifts that were given, like neckties and baseball game tickets, we wonder if there were any handwritten “Love You” notes suggesting doctor’s appointments for prostate cancer screenings. Probably not.

That’s too bad. It truly is a gift that shows love for a life.

Every 18 minutes another American male dies from prostate cancer. That’s a little more than 80 deaths per day and 29,430 this year — about the same as the average attendance at a New York Mets game this year.

One in nine American males will have prostate cancer during his lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates in its Cancer Facts & Figures 2018 report that 164,690 men will be told they have prostate cancer in 2018. Currently there are nearly 2.9 million American men living with the disease – about the combined population of Philadelphia and San Diego. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men and the most commonly diagnosed. It is not just happening to the other guy (although it probably is as well).

As Men Health’s Month continues this June, raising awareness of prostate cancer in your family, your circle of friends, and your community is critical. Modern medicine has given many the gift of longer, healthier lives. But long life means new health challenges.

So, males eligible for Medicare should pay particular attention. And if you are in a particularly high-risk slice of American males — such as African-Americans and to a lesser extent Chinese-Americans — start paying attention now. Get screened, learn options, and get ready.

Why is the threat larger for African-American males? No one has pinpointed the exact reason for this greater threat. Possible factors are race, nutrition, family history of cancer, and environment — the latter affecting knowledge, awareness, and recognized need of screenings.

Prostate cancer happens often without any pattern or history. The simplest reason so many males are vulnerable is that their prostate changes as they get older and sets them up for attack. Prostate cancer develops when the prostate cells undergo genetic changes. Like many cancers, it attacks silently and secretly.

That is its strength. It relies on the lack of attention men pay to their health. Lack of a habit of getting checked for cancer allows it to get deadlier. It knows what many men do not — that early detection and advances in treatment are saving lives.

Finding prostate cancer when it is still at an early stage offers the best hope for living cancer free for a long time. The most recent research shows the five-year survival for all men diagnosed with prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent. The relative 10-year survival rate is 98 percent, and it’s 96 percent for 15 years.

Those are excellent percentages. So, get screened and find out.

Medicare can be one of your friends in outing prostate cancer.

Medicare Part A and Part B may cover cancer screenings and some cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy. For more information on Medicare coverage of preventive services please visit https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/preventive-and-screening-services.html.

Cancer treatment is constantly evolving and expanding. New options continue to be pursued and determined to be valid. One treatment does not fit all — but treatments for all who have the disease are non-negotiable.

Get screened. And this way we can say, see you next Father’s Day!