I truly want y’all to share this story. It’s utterly necessary, and just goes to show once again why the government should NOT be in the business of health care.
I’m in South Florida where I attended the board meeting of the Urological Research Foundation (URF). I was invited to be a member of the board of URF and being a black man at age 55, well, this is important. One of the great killers of black men — besides black-on-black crime, is prostate cancer.
As a matter of fact, my father-in-law is a prostate cancer survivor. “African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer compared with Caucasian men and are nearly 2.4 times as likely to die from the disease. Although scientists do not yet understand why prostate cancer incidence and death rates are higher among African-American men, it is widely believed that it is a combination of genetic differences, lifestyle, nutritional habits and medical care may all play a role in the statistics.”
On Friday, I learned more about prostate cancer than I could have EVER imagined and guess what, I was sitting next to the world-renowned Dr. William Catalona, the man who came up with the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test. And Dr. Catalona has gone even further in coming up with the Prostate Health Index (PHI) test, which has been FDA approved and measures three forms of PSA, not just the one, resulting in three times better accuracy. On March 21st, Dr. Catalona will be the recipient of the Castle Connolly National Physician of the Year Award in New York City.
From the URF website, The funds and energies of the Urological Research Foundation (URF) are directed to research for the prevention, detection, treatment and cure of the diseases of the prostate and most specifically, prostate cancer. Dr. Catalona is one of the first surgeons to perform and perfect nerve sparing surgery in radical prostatectomy operations. Dr. Catalona has performed more than 6,000 radical prostatectomies.”
I know this may not be a very comfortable topic, but we need to have this discussion and get better educated on this life threatening cancer. Yeah, I know, most guys have experience with the old rectal exam for prostate health, and boy I hated that…I remember as a young Lieutenant having an Army major, a doctor, order me to take the exam. But technology and cost has dramatically changed.
Just in case you don’t know, the prostate is “a gland within the male reproductive system that is located just below the bladder. Chestnut shaped, the prostate surrounds the beginning of the urethra, the canal that empties the bladder. The prostate is actually not one but many glands, 30-50 in number, between which is abundant tissue containing many bundles of smooth muscle. The secretion of the prostate is a milky fluid that is discharged into the urethra at the time of the ejaculation of semen.”
What is prostate cancer? According to the American Cancer Society, “Several types of cells are found in the prostate, but almost all prostate cancers develop from the gland cells (the cells that make the prostate fluid that is added to the semen). The medical term for a cancer that starts in gland cells is adenocarcinoma.
Other types of cancer can also start in the prostate gland, including:
> Neuroendocrine tumors (other than small cell carcinomas)
> Transitional cell carcinoma
But these types of prostate cancer are so rare that if you have prostate cancer, it is almost certain to be an adenocarcinoma. Some prostate cancers can grow and spread quickly, but most grow slowly. In fact, autopsy studies show that many older men (and even some younger men) who died of other causes also had prostate cancer that never affected them during their lives. In many cases neither they nor their doctors even knew they had it”.
Here are some very alarming statistics:
“The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2015 are:
> About 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer
> About 27,540 deaths from prostate cancer
About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 man in 38 will die of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In fact, more than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.”
Now, ask yourself, given these statistics, why is it that one of the aftermaths of Obamacare is that PSA tests are now deemed unnecessary?
In speaking with Dr. Catalona and other members of the URF Board, most of whom are prostate cancer survivors, it’s clear these tests aren’t even covered.
As written by Dr. David Samadi in an op-ed piece for Fox News in 2015, “The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against PSA (prostate specific antigen) screening for prostate cancer. The task force currently gives PSA screening a grade D, meaning that there is moderate or high certainty that the PSA test has no benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits. This recommendation was first issued in 2011.
What’s wrong with the USPSTF guidelines? In regards to population screening, the African-American male population is ignored, as well as the effect of family history and morbidity associated with prostate cancer. However, African-American men are 56 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer and more than twice as likely to die from the disease compared to Caucasian men. They are also more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer.
Instead of focusing on the benefits of PSA screening and how much it has actually helped the health care system, their recommendations focus on the complications of treatment, such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction. However, these complications depend on how experienced the surgeon is that you are being treated by.
The USPSTF is made up of 16 volunteer members who are experts in prevention, evidence-based medicine, and primary care. Their fields of practice and expertise include behavioral health, family medicine, geriatrics, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and nursing. However, no one on the USPSTF has actually treated patients with prostate cancer.”
So typical of government that we have a bunch of chuckleheads making a determination about something in which they do not specialize. And then you have government referring to this as “proven science” and thereby denying preventative treatment. On Friday I learned about a site called Propublica Surgeon Scorecard, in order to learn about doctors who have the lowest rating on prostate cancer surgical complications – not surprisingly, Dr. Catalona’s score in exceptional.
I’m proud to have been asked to be a board member of the Urological Research Foundation (URF). Visit his website, and learn more about Dr. Catalona’s vital work. We need to support this effort. And you can expect me to become a voice for this fight, and especially for black men. I ask that you join me in this cause, and share this post widely. Hey guys, we need to take care of ourselves. Our country, our children and grandchildren are depending on us.