You Are Not a Cancer Statistic
James T. Song, MD FACS Urologist
Harne, Song, and Woo MD PA
According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 7 men in the US will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, that includes almost 240,000 new cases every year, and 30,000 men will die of it each year. In fact, prostate cancer kills more men than any other cancer in the US, except lung cancer. Even though these statistics are grave and startling, numbers never compare to what one feels when a husband, a brother, or an uncle receives the diagnosis of prostate cancer. The emotional and personal upheaval that starts to swell inside, like a horrible, devastating tsunami, is more real when it involves you. You are not a number. You are a person, not just skin and bone, but a soul, with so much to do and so many to care for, still.
The purpose of this short communication is not to scare anyone, but, rather, to give to everyone, the most powerful tool to fight and, very likely, beat such cancer-the power of knowledge. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, before the simple blood test PSA (prostate specific antigen, a blood protein secreted by the prostate), nearly half of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer had advanced cancer, with cancer already spread to lymph nodes and to the bones. All of these patients eventually died and many of them died of prostate cancer. Today, only 5 % are diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. That means that the vast majority of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer today are at a curable stage! That is why the death rate due to prostate cancer, although still unacceptably high, is so much better today that they were 40 years ago. PSA testing, which started in the late 1980’s, has made a very positive impact on the success of treatment for prostate cancer today.
Both the American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association recommend annual PSA testing. We recommend PSA testing at the age of 50 and at the age of 40 if you are African American or have a relative with prostate cancer. Use this knowledge to arm yourself against prostate cancer and its potential devastating effects. You are not a number. You are a grandfather, a husband, an uncle, a brother, and a father with a lot of things to still accomplish.