The Test that Might Save Your Life

couple in their 40s

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. But why is this annual observation needed? Men and the people who care about them should know that prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer death among American males. They should also know that it can be detected and treated.

Prostate cancer will kill an estimated 30,000 men in the US and 250,000 worldwide in 2012 alone. Over the past 20 years the incidence of prostate cancer has gradually increased and now affects one in every six America men. Yes, there are more cases of the disease but fewer men are dying from it − the mortality rate has decreased by 40 percent in the past decade.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation and the American Urology Association (AUA) believe that detection through what is called prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening is responsible for saving many of those lives, and I agree.

There is some controversy regarding PSA screening − and no science is perfect − but there is a significant amount of evidence to support the validity of the test.

What do we know?

When should men get tested?

The AUA says to get the first PSA screening at age 40, the second at 45 and the third at 50. If levels are still healthy, the AUA recommends repeating the test annually until age 75.

Get screened for free at one of four Roper St. Francis locations on Sept. 13 and attend a Men’s Health Night aboard the USS Yorktown Sept. 27 to learn more about your health. Both free events require registration by calling 402-CARE.

By William C. Carter, MD, a board certified urologist with Lowcountry Urology Clinics