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Guys - Get Over It. Get Tested.

For the record, I personally have never liked going to the doctor. You might be like me – a hardheaded dude that waits for a health issue to get out of hand… and then you run to the closest Urgent Care. Well, that was the “oldâ€? 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 physical… got a blood work up done and my very first prostate (sigh) DRE, digital rectal exam… or as I used to call it, the “finger in the exitâ€? test. Getting your prostate checked is something that guys usually don’t talk about. If we do it’s probably connected to a joke… of the locker room humor variety. Trust me on this, it’s no joke to be a 50 year-old guy and be told that you have prostate cancer. Especially when I didn’t have any symptoms at all. Still don’t. Here’s the deal, you don’t 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, “Here’s 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 didn’t raise a red flag at all. My blood work did the heavy lifting. My blood was tested for my PSA level… PSA stands for “Prostate Specific Antigenâ€? something that gets elevated in your blood if your prostate is acting wacky… wacky as in, an infection, it’s 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 test… you see, neither test is 100% reliable on it’s 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 Force… 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 don’t know what the Preventative Services Task Force is but my elevated PSA was the only hint that I had something going on. That “hintâ€? 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 bones… radically worsening my odds of survival. Most prostate cancers are slow growing… that fact that my prostate is pretty much saturated with cancer means that I’ve probably been carrying this disease around for years. So, while I’m not a doctor, please consider my recommendation to not wait until you turn 50 to get tested. Start at 45… 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 it’s 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 are… My family doctor told me something about the world of health statistics that I’d like to pass on to you. You are your own statistic. - And, you need to take care of you… eat right, exercise, drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep, don’t smoke, don’t 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.  He is in the last week of his treatments.