September is Prostate Health Month—Are You Prepared?

By Barrett White

As men approach their 50th birthday, the dreaded landmark looms ahead: The prostate exam. The exam might be the butt of plenty of jokes for middle-aged men, the importance of it is no laughing matter.

According to the American Cancer Society, as many as one in 9 men may be diagnosed with prostate cancer. As many as one in 41 men may die of the same disease. While millions of men beat prostate cancer and live full, fulfilling lives afterward, catching the disease early is the best way to overcome it.

Men with prostate cancer in their family are at a higher risk of developing it, and men whose brothers had it are even more susceptible to it than those whose fathers had it. It is suggested that all men begin speaking with their doctors about prostate cancer toward their 50th birthday, but it is suggested that those who are at a higher risk begin closer to their 40th.

KPRC Channel 2 reported that Memorial Hermann encourages African-American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer to test each year beginning at age 40.

There are two types of prostate exams: The PSA test, which is a blood test, checks your levels of prostate-specific antigens. The second test is the DRE, or digital rectal exam, where a doctor is able to check for any hard spots on the prostate, which could indicate cancer. The DRE could be administered along with the PSA test, or the PSA test could be completed alone.

The American Cancer Society suggests plenty of exercise, along with a fruit-and-vegetable-rich diet to assist in lowering your risk. Maintaining a healthy weight and getting the suggested 2.5 cups of veggies and fruits per day may prevent issues associated with poor prostate health.

This week Houston found out Frank Billingsley, Chief Meteorologist for KPRC, had prostate cancer. Billingsley, who is not in the assumed age range, nor did he show signs of cancer, was diagnosed after a routine check-up revealed cancerous cells in his prostate. “Don’t wait,” he told Channel 2, “When you go for a regular blood screening, it’s very simple, just one more vial of blood, and they test it and see what your PSA is. That doesn’t guarantee you have cancer, that just means something is going on and they need to check, and you need to see a urologist about it. If you catch this disease early enough, it’s about [a] 100 percent cure rate.”