June 2017 is Men's Health Month

This is the logo for mens health month 2017The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. This month gives health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.

Prostate Cancer Information

  • Prostate Cancer Facts
  • Prostate Cancer Documents
  • A MaineDOT Employee's Story
  • 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 5 African-American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
  • Some men are at higher risk than others:
    • African-American men:
      • African-American men are over 1.57 times as likely as the general population to develop prostate cancer, but over 2.14 times as likely to die from prostate cancer.
    • Men with a family history:
      • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that men with a brother, father, or son who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop prostate cancer. More information can be found at the CDC's Prostate Cancer information web page.
    • Men exposed to Agent Orange:
      • Giri et al. (2004) found that Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange were more than 2 times as likely to develop prostate cancer and that when diagnosed, the cancer was more aggressive: “…twice as many exposed men diagnosed with prostate cancer (OR=2.19), developed the disease at a younger age, and they had a more aggressive variant of prostate cancer.” More information can be found at: www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/cdds_addendum.pdf.
    • American Indian/Alaska Native men:
      • Have the lowest incidence of prostate cancer, but are twice as likely as Asian/Pacific Islanders (who have a higher incidence rate) to die from it.
    • All men are at risk, and some who are not in any of the high risk categories are diagnosed with aggressive cancer.

My Journey with Prostate Cancer
By Steven Thebarge, M&O Region 4

One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and men with a family history are 2 to 3 times more likely to get prostate cancer. So it was not a huge surprise when on September 18, 2015, I joined my father, his twin brother and several of my other uncles who have shared this diagnosis.

When the doctor told my wife and I about the cancer we were actually quite calm and almost relieved that we finally had a diagnosis. This reaction may seem strange but I had been anticipating this for several years because of my family history and the rising numbers on the PSA tests that I had been having since my father’s diagnosis nearly twenty years before. The bit of good news I received that day was since my primary care doctor had taken my family history seriously, he had been screening me for prostate cancer from a relatively young age. Thankfully, my cancer was caught at a very early stage and I had a full range of treatment options available.

The two primary treatment options for prostate cancer are to surgically remove the prostate, thus removing the cancer, or kill the cancer with radiation therapy. My initial reaction after receiving my diagnosis was to get the cancer out of my body so I was leaning toward surgery. We met with the urologic surgeon who diagnosed the cancer, another surgeon in Portland for a second opinion and also chose to meet with a radiation oncologist to discuss radiation therapy, thus covering all the bases. Additionally, I talked with a close childhood friend who had recently been diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer and had opted for surgery.

What all three medical providers recommended surprised me.  Since my cancer was caught so early they felt I should follow a program of “Active Surveillance.” This option closely monitors any progression of the cancer using PSA tests, digital exams and, if needed, needle biopsies, thus delaying active treatment for as long as safely possible. I was quite skeptical of this approach and concerned about the cancer growing inside me. I did considerable research on Active Surveillance and its risks and benefits as well as the risks/benefits and potential side efforts of prostate cancer surgery. In the end we felt Active Surveillance was our best choice at this time. I am avoiding potential life altering surgical side effects for now and keeping my normal quality of life for as long as I can. I do have frequent PSA tests and have had 2 needle biopsies in the past 18 months. Fortunately, both biopsies have shown no evidence of the cancer advancing.

Everyone’s journey with prostate cancer will be different and I recognize my journey is just beginning and there may be twists and turns in the road ahead, but I am happy with the treatment decision I made. What I challenge all men to do is become educated about prostate cancer, learn your family history, see your doctor and get tested. An early diagnosis is the key to effective treatment. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to others you know who have dealt with this issue. The greatest fear is the unknown and the worst sin is to ignore a problem. Call me if you have any questions. I am more than willing to share my experiences and how I came to my decision.

As for my father, since he never went to the doctor, by the time his cancer was found it had spread beyond the prostate, so surgery was not an option. He was treated with radiation and hormone therapy. Thankfully his treatment, though difficult at times, had an excellent result as he will turn 80 in January and thinks he might actually retire from work this year.

Thanks for listening.