While September is widely recognized as back to school time, it is also Prostate Cancer Awareness Month both nationally and in New York State. In New York State alone over 17,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. As children return to school, this is a great time to remind the men in your life to have a discussion with their doctor to determine if a prostate check-up is right for them.
Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common non-skin cancer affecting men in the U.S. and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men. Despite improvements in patient education and awareness, many men still fall through the cracks. In fact, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime and in spite of advances in early detection and treatment, one man still dies every 30 minutes from this disease. The incidence and death rate is even higher for African American men or those with a family history of the disease.
Prostate cancer can affect any of the men in our lives – our fathers, grandfathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, sons, friends and neighbors – but with early detection this disease is almost always treatable. When the disease is caught early the 10 year survival rate is almost 99%. However, since there are no symptoms of early prostate cancer, the only way to detect the disease is to look for it. Recent studies published in the prestigious journals Cancer and New England Journal of Medicine, show that PSA screened patients followed for more than 10 years experienced a 38% survival advantage over those not screened, and with the absence of prostate screening, the number of men that would present with advanced disease would be increased by 300%.
To raise awareness about the importance of early detection of prostate cancer, I encourage you and your loved ones to wear blue on September 28th, the official day of the “Wear Blue for the Men You Love” campaign launched by The Integrated Medical Foundation (IMF). IMF, a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness and early detection of prostate cancer, has organized this campaign to educate the public about the importance of early detection. (For more information about IMF’s events, for FREE prostate screening dates or for support group dates please visit www.IMFcares.org.)
Together we can help ensure that generations of men are there not only for their children’s back to school, but for their grandkids as well. We all need to ensure that our message is heard: early detection saves lives.