Early detection for cancer

Early detection for prostate and breast cancers truly is your best medicine

By Rick L. Stevens

Every fall my wife, Malette, and I are reminded of the importance of getting screened for prostate and breast cancers. And with those reminders come reflections of those we know, some very dear to us, who have been affected by these cancers. The underlying message that always comes through loud and clear is the importance of early detection.

The American Cancer Society recommends that men have an annual prostate screening at age 50 if at average risk; at age 45 if at high-risk, which includes African-American men and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65); and age 40 if at an even higher risk with more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age. Screenings should continue annually on men in good health who are expected to live at least 10 more years.

Women who are at average risk of developing breast cancer are recommended by the American Cancer Society to start getting screened yearly between the ages of 45-54 and women 55 and older can continue with yearly exams or switch to every other year. Screenings should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer. Women who are at high risk for breast cancer (personal history or strong family history of breast cancer, a genetic mutation known to increase risk, have had chest radiation therapy between the ages of 10-30, or have first-degree relatives with one of the known breast-related syndromes) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year beginning at age 30.

Catching cancer early often allows for more treatment options. Some early cancers may have signs and symptoms that can be noticed, but that’s not always the case. There are two very important community screening opportunities this month that will – without a doubt – save somebody’s life with early detection of either prostate or breast cancer.

The Christian Hospital Foundation is hosting a mammo-thon to provide 100 mammograms from 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15, at Northwest HealthCare. Women age 40 and older who haven’t had a mammogram in the past few years are encouraged to participate. If someone can’t afford a mammogram or has no insurance, the foundation may be able to help. Reservations are required by call 1-855-953-9355 and please make sure to mention the mammo-thon.

Today more than ever it’s important for everyone to be empowered and educated in order to take charge of one’s own health. If you or a loved one falls into the parameters of getting screened for either of these cancers, please take action today and schedule a screening.

Until next time, best wishes for your good health!

Rick L. Stevens is President of Christian Hospital.