Guys - Get Over It. Get Tested.
For the record, I personally have never liked going to the doctor. You might be like me â a hardheaded dude that waits for a health issue to get out of handâ¦ and then you run to the closest Urgent Care. Well, that was the âoldâ? me. The new me turned 50 and decided to actually start getting some of those medical tests that are recommended at the half-century mark. A few months back I went to see our family doctor for a physicalâ¦ got a blood work up done and my very first prostate (sigh) DRE, digital rectal examâ¦ or as I used to call it, the âfinger in the exitâ? test. Getting your prostate checked is something that guys usually donât talk about. If we do itâs probably connected to a jokeâ¦ of the locker room humor variety. Trust me on this, itâs no joke to be a 50 year-old guy and be told that you have prostate cancer. Especially when I didnât have any symptoms at all. Still donât. Hereâs the deal, you donât actually just go in and get a digital rectal exam and before you have a chance to pull your pants up your doctor blurts out, âHereâs something interesting, you sir, have cancer.â? No, the journey to finding out that you have this stuff is a process that starts with a couple of tests. Actually in my case, the DRE didnât raise a red flag at all. My blood work did the heavy lifting. My blood was tested for my PSA levelâ¦ PSA stands for âProstate Specific Antigenâ? something that gets elevated in your blood if your prostate is acting wackyâ¦ wacky as in, an infection, itâs enlarged, or, as in my case, cancer. To really check the ole prostate a man needs to get a digital rectal exam AND a PSA testâ¦ you see, neither test is 100% reliable on itâs own but as a combo these tests can save your life. Recently the PSA tests effectiveness has been questioned by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Forceâ¦ let me see, since PSA testing has been in use deaths from prostate cancer have decreased between 35 and 40%, according to what study you choose to believe. I donât know what the Preventative Services Task Force is but my elevated PSA was the only hint that I had something going on. That âhintâ? led to a biopsy that identified that I have cancer raging in my prostate and that the cancer is more than likely only a few months from escaping the gland and landing in my lymphatic system or bonesâ¦ radically worsening my odds of survival. Most prostate cancers are slow growingâ¦ that fact that my prostate is pretty much saturated with cancer means that Iâve probably been carrying this disease around for years. So, while Iâm not a doctor, please consider my recommendation to not wait until you turn 50 to get tested. Start at 45â¦ better yet, asks your doctor to test you at 40. Your doctor will probably tell you that only one man in one hundred between the ages of 40 and 50 gets prostate cancer. If you are that one in a hundred with prostate cancer itâs much better that you find out sooner than later. About 1 in 6 U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their life. In the U.S., about 217,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and 32,000 die. Early detection is the key. Statistically speaking, the sooner you catch cancer and treat it, the better yours odds of survival areâ¦ My family doctor told me something about the world of health statistics that Iâd like to pass on to you. You are your own statistic. - And, you need to take care of youâ¦ eat right, exercise, drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep, donât smoke, donât stress, and please guys go see your doctor and get that prostate checked out. Michael Ivey is a WOSU Commentator, writer and filmmaker from Westerville.Â He is in the last week of his treatments.