The Ottumwa Courier

October 4, 2013

Be aware of prostate cancer

Dave Steele
Ottumwa Courier

---- — I am very pleased to see the coverage and interest in breast cancer with October designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are about 220,000 new cases of breast cancer reported every year, and it is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in women, with around 40,000 deaths each year. I applaud the Courier’s goal to make more people aware of this devastating disease and perhaps save lives due to proper exams and early detection.

Many people are unaware that September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. The ribbon symbol for prostate cancer is light blue. There are over 250,000 new cases of prostate cancer reported annually, with around 30,000 deaths every year. While there are more cases of prostate cancer reported, there are fewer deaths than from breast cancer, primarily due to the many different treatments available with early detection.

It is recommended that men over the age of 50 (especially African-American men), have a prostate screening every year. This includes a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test and a digital examination. These simple tests can be done in a doctor’s office and can possibly save a man’s life.

Although men may have some symptoms of prostate cancer, most are very subtle ... so subtle, that most men are unaware of any changes. There are many different methods of treatment for prostate cancer. Traditionally, it is a slow-growing cancer and it is very treatable, but only if a man is aware that he has it.

Prostate cancer appears to be an objectionable topic of conversation among men. This lack of discussion becomes a factor in the death rate from prostate cancer. I am 64 years, old and I have had prostate cancer for three years. I have had surgery and radiation treatments and am presently receiving hormone treatments at Mayo Clinic. My cancer is currently in remission and my PSA level is undetectable. My family and I are very blessed and we have made a commitment to increase awareness of this disease.

My cancer was detected in a regular check-up, but labs after surgery showed it was aggressive and had already progressed outside the prostate. After radiation, it metastasized to the bone. With hormone therapy, I am currently in remission. My doctor at Mayo Clinic has been very honest in saying that there will be a time when treatment will no longer work. I make the most of each day and live a full and meaningful life. My story of battling this disease has wonderful aspects of humanity to it. I am grateful.

While I wish to take nothing away from the Courier's coverage of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I would appreciate seeing more information in the Courier regarding prostate cancer. As a male, I encourage the Courier to help promote September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month by publishing survivor’s stories. By sharing the stories of both breast cancer and prostate cancer survivors, the Courier can make a huge difference in the lives of their readers and do a great service to our community. Thank you for your coverage of this important issue.