Let prostate cancer awareness trump squeamishness

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Source: Cancer Research UK

Talking about cancer is difficult, and it’s more difficult when the cancer has attacked a part of the body that isn’t usually spoken about in polite company, but minding your manners and not mentioning the word “prostate” might cause delay in detection and treatment for you or someone you know.

The prostate is a small, squishy gland about the size of a ping-pong ball that is located deep inside the groin, between the base of the penis and the rectum. It plays an important role in sexual reproduction.

Squeamishness and waiting in silence could cause you needless harm, since the cancer could spread to surrounding tissue and bones. If you sense something is different, it’s important to contact your clinic right away.

Many men wonder whether they should have the blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which can detect prostate cancer. While screening can help find prostate cancer early, there is much discussion about the potential for a false positive, which means the test results might show cancer when there really isn’t any cancer present.

Before you get screened for prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about the possible benefits and harms of screening, diagnosis and treatment and about your own personal risk. This advice is a good rule of thumb for any medical issue and underlines the importance of having a primary clinic that you go to on a regular basis.

If you need help finding a clinic, call Health Navigation at 515-993-3750.

Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.

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