Prostate Cancer support group meets this evening
This year in Canada it is expected that 4,200 men will die from Prostate Cancer.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society (www.cancer.ca) one out of every nine Canadian men will get prostate cancer in their lives.
Although prostate cancer makes up 20% of all men’s cancers, it accounts for only 10% of cancer deaths. That is because when it is caught early, the prostate cancer patient has several options for treatment and removal of the cancer. If the cancer is discovered while still confined to the prostate gland (an acorn-sized gland that sits below the bladder in men) it can be dealt with through surgery or radiation treatments.
If the cancer is allowed to progress, it leaves the prostate and moves on to other areas of the body. In those cases the patient is left with hormone treatments and efforts to prolong life. All these treatments come with side-effects and after-effects, some of which are most unpleasant. Some are life altering.
But there is a way to spot this problem early. A simple blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA) can give an indication that a problem exists. It won’t say for sure that cancer exists, but it will give notice that further testing is called for.
In recent years, many family doctors have stopped recommending PSA testing, because many men undergo further testing only to find there is no cancer there.
Some of the testing can cause other problems.
“I have a couple of friends who discovered too late that they have prostate cancer,” said Kevin Higgins, Chair of Cranbrook’s Prostate Cancer Support Group.
“These men could have taken preventative measures and gotten rid of their cancer, if they had known it was there. Now they are left with the struggles of staying alive.”
According to Prostate Cancer Foundation BC, men over the age of 50 should ask their doctor for a PSA test. The raw number you get back from the test is not as significant as its progression over a few years.
“I was one of the fortunate ones,” says Higgins. “In 2006 we found my cancer in time and I have been living cancer-free ever since.” The Canadian Urological Association recommends that men over 50 get a PSA test. But they say further that those in a higher risk category (with a family history of prostate cancer) should be tested even earlier.
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in Canada. Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has asked for public buildings to be lit up in blue this month as a sign of awareness for this disease. Several large buildings in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland are participating.
In the spirit of awareness, and trying to get back on track, Prostate Cancer Support Group – Cranbrook is going back to in-person meetings this month.
“We are returning to the College of the Rockies, following 18 months of Zoom meetings,” said Higgins. “But we are restricting our gathering to only those who can show they are fully vaccinated, and we will be wearing masks.” The support group meets on the third Wednesday of the month (September 15) at 7 p.m. in Room 205 of the Cranbrook campus.
Anyone wanting more information about the group or about prostate cancer issues can contact Kevin Higgins at [email protected] or by calling 250-427-3322.