Cancer survivor urges prostate screening
Gift of Life screenings set for LSC-O
Joe King, 70, knows the importance of prostate cancer screening for men. A lifelong resident of Orange, King was found to have elevated Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) while doing a routine physical exam before retiring from his job. He said the physical was not required for retirement, but he wanted to do it. That decision may have saved his life, as he was experiencing no symptoms. “I never would have known,” said King.
That was in March, 2001.
After going through cryosurgery and 37 external radiation treatments, King has been declared “cancer free” for the last two years.
He was lucky. The cancer was in such an early stage that all of the treatment options were available to him. It was so small when found that his doctor said it was “…like a needle in a haystack.”
Without regular screening, most men may not have any idea that something is wrong. “It is a slow growing cancer,” said King.
“Most of the time, by the time symptoms show up, it’s too late.” According to King, they may have had the cancer for 15 years by then.
To help save more lives, King is co-chairman along with Beverly Perry, a breast cancer survivor, for the Julie Rogers Gift of Life Program’s free prostate cancer screenings set for September at Lamar State College-Orange.
Screenings are provided free to men with limited income who do not have medical insurance, Medicaid or Medicare and those who are underinsured. A simple blood test and digital exam is all that is needed.
American men have a 50 percent chance of developing some form of cancer in their lifetime. Thirty-one percent of those will be prostate cancer. The risk increases with age. Men 39 years of age and younger have a one in 10,000 chance of developing prostrate cancer, the risk goes to one in 103 for men 40-59 years of age. At 60-79 years, the risk jumps to a whopping one in eight.
Prostate cancer is 66 percent more common among African-Americans and is twice as likely to be fatal in blacks than in Caucasians. They also are more likely to develop the cancer at an earlier age and have more aggressive forms of the disease.
Several different treatment options are available, with early detection and early treatment being the key to survival. Hormonal treatments, radiation, cryosurgery (which involves freezing the cancer cells using small probes) and removal of the prostate are some of the methods used.
King chose radiation, which is non-invasive, and treatments only take about 10 minutes each. He also underwent cryosurgery, which is minimally invasive but done on an out-patient basis. “They did lots of tests. It was a one hour surgery, one hour in recovery,” said King, “I didn’t feel any different.”
There have been no changes in his lifestyle, because the cancer was found so early.
Urging all men to get tested, “It’s very, very important to have your PSAs checked at 40 years,” said King. “If you have cancer in your family, start at 35.”
The free screenings will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Sept. 13, at the LSC-O Student Center, 407 Green Ave. There will be free gifts for men, free refreshments, door prizes and educational materials. All men uninsured or underinsured are eligible.
You must call the Gift of Life office first to register at 833-3663 or 1-877-0720-GIFT.
Because of early detection, King will be able to spend many more years with his wife, Lois, in their home of 25 years. He hopes to give others that same opportunity.