A Simple, Yearly Test Can Save Black Men From Dying

A Simple, Yearly Test Can Save Black Men From Dying

By Christopher Tidmore

 

 

 

Special to theTrice Edney News Wire from the Louisiana Weekly – “African-Americanmales have the highest risk of prostate cancer in the world and should educatethemselves about risk factors to head off aggressive cancers,” Dr. JonathanHenderson of Regional Urology, LLC in Shreve­port told The Louisiana Weekly,and because of joie de vivre in the Crescent City, Black men in New Orleans areof particular risk. But, there is good news. “In the PSAera,” he continued, “the 10 year survival rate for prostate cancer hasincreased from 53 to over 97 percent, while the overall mortality from thisdisease has declined by nearly 40 percent. Men, particularly African-Americanmen and those with a family history, need to take ownership of their health andhave a conversation with their physician about their risk factors and when aPSA test is appropriate. It is senseless for men to die from this disease thatis almost always curable with early detection.” In general, Dr. Henderson told thisnewspaper, “New Orleanians are not at higher risk, as a group. Individuals ofparticular subsets of New Orleanians are at a higher than average risk. Themost notable two groups to whom this applies are men of African-Americandescent and men with a family history of prostate cancer.” {{more}} The racial aspect of the disease is notunusual, the Shreveport Physician and LUGPA board member outlined,“African-American males have the highest risk of prostate cancer in the world.Unfortunately, the cause for this are still un­known. These men arediagnosed more frequently, with more aggressive cancers, and at a laterstage than other groups. For this reason, it isimperative that men of African-American descent find a urologist early in theirlife and through an educated process seek early detection of this potentiallyfatal disease.” When asked, Given our unique localcultural trends, what can realistically be done to ameliorate risk, Dr.Henderson replied, “This is an excellent question, to which there are severalanswers. First, we know that ALL cancers as well as heart disease are increasedwith high fat, low fiber diets. Here is the cornerstone of risk reduction.Let’s face it. We cannot change our genes, but we can absolutely change ourbehavior.” “Second, our southern culture, especiallyamong African Ameri­cans, has a longstanding mistrust of the medicalestablishment. This is not without good reason, as any student of historyknows. Now is the time to move past that. It is far too often that I see a manpresent for his very first visit with widespread prostate cancer. There is noway we can cure this disease other than early detection, which falls upon thepatient to ensure they visit the doctor. Third, due to the advanced andaggressive nature of prostate cancer in these men, it is important to be evenmore aggressive in screening than normal. Research has shown that lower PSAcutoffs should be established for this group. In other words, the urologistconducting the screening must understand the nuances of interpreting the datain this high risk group.” The biggest problem, Dr. Hen­dersonemphasized, is taking simple precautions can be the difference between life anddeath. As he noted, “In the public sphere, the knowledge is obviously lackingregarding the need for screening. The word must be disseminated better.September is Prostate Can­cer Awareness Month, and in most localities therewill be free screenings as well as public service announcements.” Yet, he warned, “Scientifically, what wedon’t know is a very large amount. Because of the nature of our sexes, theamount of research money directed toward breast cancer has dwarfed that ofprostate cancer by large multiplier. It is long past time we even that gap.Prostate cancer kills about 33,000 Americans every year. So, yes, knowledge ofthe cause and treatment of this disease is very young in its development.Fortunately, in the past five years, there has been an explosion of newtreatments for advanced prostate cancer as well as breakthrough geneticdiscoveries.” “In summary, men need to see a urologistat least yearly from no later than their 40th birthday. Women can help, andoften do, to motivate men to do so. Eat right and exercise. If a manexperiences some unusual urinary or sexual symptom, he should immediately seehis urologist.” “We all need to do better to get the wordout, be it through civic groups, churches, word of mouth, etc. In this diseasewhich is virtually always curable when caught early, it makes no sense for usto see a man in 2013 for his first visit with widespread prostate cancer.” “Would a man ask the Saints to forgo allof their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd downs, and every time they get the ball, start on4th down? No! You can’t win a ball game like that. But that is exactly what mendo when they present in an already advanced state. Early detection is the key.”