The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

September 20, 2013

This simple test can save your life

The (Freeport) Journal-Standard September 16
The Clinton Herald

---- — Men are thickheaded, stubborn and unreasonable, to say the least, when you suggest a visit to the doctor’s office.

They believe they can “shake it off,” or they’ll be all better if they “rub some dirt on it” — pick your favorite macho sentiment. That kind of attitude can be deadly when it comes to a man’s health.

Perhaps it’s because of masculine attitudes that Prostate Cancer Awareness Month passes as barely a blip on the public radar while Breast Cancer Awareness Month has almost everyone in the pink.

The numbers are all too similar. There will be 238,590 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States this year, according to estimates compiled by the American Cancer Society, and 29,730 will die. Those are all men.

Prostate cancer strikes black men at higher rates than it does white men, and black men are twice as likely to die of the disease.

There will be 232,340 new cases of breast cancer among women and 2,240 cases among men — yes, breast cancer strikes men, too — and 39,620 women and 410 men will die.

A further similarity between the cancers is that early detection is key. The five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 100 percent unless the disease has spread to other areas of the body. For breast cancer, it’s 98 percent. The odds that you’ll live longer have increased as new medications and procedures become available.

Besides getting much more attention, breast cancer research receives twice the money that prostate cancer research does. In fiscal 2009, breast cancer research received $872 million from the federal government; prostate cancer got $390 million.

But more research spending won’t do any good if men don’t go to the doctor. Men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, but we don’t expect to see professional athletes sporting extra blue attire during games. Perhaps the NFL can mix some public service announcements in with the beer commercials to get the guys’ attention. If that doesn’t work, ladies, tell the man you love to go to the doctor.

He’ll be around a lot longer if he does.