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Knowing your level

Laramie Boomerang - 9/2/2017

Prostate cancer is the third most deadly cancer among American men, killing one out of every 39, according to the American Cancer Society. But while serious, most men with prostate cancer do not die from it.

There are many ways to decrease one's risk - by eating healthy, exercising regularly and not smoking - but monitoring prostate health can help individuals live with and treat the sometimes lethal cancer.

"Being able to monitor certainly decreases any risk," said Nancy Halsey, an oncology-certified nurse practitioner with Ivinson Memorial Hospital's Cancer Center. "Most prostate cancer is very slow growing and it's very silent, meaning that there are no symptoms."

IMH is doing its part to help members of the community monitor their prostate health by offering free prostate screenings during its event from 8 a.m.-noonSept. 9 at the cancer center.

Volunteer nurses will do lab draws, after which the blood will be sent off to a study clinic for a Prostate SpecifiAntigen - or PSA - test. Further consultation with a primary care provider or a urologist is suggested for individuals with a high PSA level.

"It's not so much that we're trying to find a cancer or find patients to treat, but we want people to be aware of their level," Halsey said. " ? And year after year, you watch that level - much like when you go to your doctor's office and do your blood pressure once a year."

Halsey said the lab draw takes just 10 minutes and participants will hear about their results in 3-4 weeks.

"They get a letter stating what the recommendation would be - ?It's normal, no recommendation' or ?It's abnormal and here's the recommendation,'" she said. "And I send those out personally, individualized to each person."

In addition to diet, level of exercise and smoking, a person's genetics also affect the likelihood of getting prostate cancer.

"We know if there's a family history, men who have a father or a brother with prostate cancer are at a greater risk of developing prostate cancer themselves," Halsey said.

The cancer center generally screens men 50 and older, but Halsey said men with a family history should start getting screened 10 years before the age at which their relative was diagnosed.

Roughly 60 percent of prostate cancer diagnoses are made for men 65 and older and diagnoses are rare for those younger than 40, according to the American Cancer Society.

Wyoming has a relatively low rate of prostate cancer deaths, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

Call 742-2141 for more information.


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