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Father's Day a fine time to remind loved ones of importance of prostate screening

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Milwaukee, Wis. -- Families can show their love and concern this Father's Day for Dad by urging him to have a prostate screening.

"Most men just don't put a prostate screening high on their 'to do' list because it may be embarrassing to discuss, but all men, beginning at age 50, should start screenings. African-American men and men with a significant family history of prostate cancer should have a discussion with their physician and consider screening at 40 years of age," said Greg Jackowski, prostate cancer care coordinator at Aurora St. Luke's. "I strongly encourage men to have very candid conversation with their physician to assess these risk factors and determine the best plan of care."

He added: "For men who may resist, I suggest their significant other get them into their primary care physician's office to be checked. Father's Day is a great time to approach the subject. It certainly shows how deeply you care, and that's a great gift."

Prostate screenings are important because men have a one in six chance of getting prostate cancer in their lifetime. It is the second-leading cause of death from cancer in men, after lung cancer.

"Chances are, if you live long enough, you'll likely end up with prostate cancer. Will it necessarily take your life? No, because it's typically slow-growing. However, if diagnosed early, more options are available to you with the goal of curing it. That's why screening is important," Jackowski said.

"You need to be talking to your primary care doctor or urologist, finding out about screenings, getting well educated about the disease and knowing what your risk factors are," Jackowski added.

A screening consists of a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which can detect an elevation in an antigen that is an indicator of the potential for prostate cancer. The other part of the screening is a digital rectal exam.

And while blood draws and rectal exams aren't popular, Jackowski said they are not to be feared. "The screening may be good news," he said. "If something is of concern, your primary care physician can recommend a urologist or other specialist."

Because most prostate cancers are slow-growing, Jackowski said there is debate as to whether or not to screen men 75 and older. "That's when you need to have a frank discussion with your physician to determine what is best for you. It's really important to be well-informed in order to make that very personal decision. Certainly active surveillance, which involves close monitoring of the cancer without active treatment, can be a reasonable and appropriate option for some men."

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers care at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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Contact: Sue Pierman
414-647-6432
sue.pierman@aurora.org

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