Health Team

Prostate cancer survivor: 'Get screened for your family'

Posted September 21, 2009

— About one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, and about one in every 35 men will die from it. The best chance for survival is early detection through screening.

Joe Calcutt, 53, could have been included among the cancer survivors' portraits at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital. He has always believed in preventative care, including prostate cancer screening.

“Every time I would go to a physician (to) have cholesterol, lab work drawn, I'd say, 'Pull a PSA,’” he said.

Last year, his doctor noticed his prostate specific antigen, or PSA, number was rising. An elevated number in the blood may be a sign of prostate cancer, so Calcutt had a biopsy, which confirmed he had a small tumor.

“Unfortunately, we don't know how to prevent this disease yet. In the absence of being able to prevent it, the best we can do is early detection,” said UNC Urologic Surgeon Dr. Raj Pruthi.

Black men and others with a family history of prostate cancer should begin screening by age 40. All men should begin PSA and digital rectal exam screening by age 50.

Early detection gave Calcutt more treatment options. He chose surgery to remove the prostate gland with robotic surgery, rather than the standard open surgery.

“Providing our patients a less invasive approach, allowing them to recover more quickly,” Pruthi said.

“You spend one night in the hospital, you go on. You go home,” Calcutt said.

No radiation or chemotherapy is necessary.

“You don't have to get screened for yourself, but you need to get screened for your family. So I can tell you, this is not as bad a deal as you think,” Calcutt said.

The North Carolina Cancer Hospital at UNC is offering free prostate cancer screening this Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m., no appointment necessary.


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  • khoggard Sep 23, 2009

    My dad is a 6 year survivor. They found his when he was 58. He treated with radiation & had no bad side effects. He found out he had prostate cancer at the same time I found out I was pregnant with his 1st grandchild. He fought hard & won the battle. He is screened now every year & his PSA levels have remained low.

  • BuglessDuster Sep 22, 2009

    I thought the PSA was part of the normal screening that is done with a physical. I don't have to ask my doctor to do it; he does it automatically.

  • xyzzy Sep 22, 2009

    Likewise. Age 51, scored a 13 on my first PSA test. I had no symptoms, and my tumor was just beginning to spread. Without a timely PSA test, I would have progressed to terminal cancer rapidly. Get tested, please.

  • jdag Sep 22, 2009

    I too benefitted from early detection. Detection at an early stage usually gives you more options.

    Get tested!

  • MileageWarrior Sep 22, 2009

    lost my dad to prostate cancer 4 years ago. he had the option to remove his prostate, or leave it and treat the cancer. he left it and treated the cancer. he was cancer-free for two years. when it came back, it came back with a vengence and he was gone with in 8 months, despite treating and fighting it as best we could. :(

    my suggestion? if you are given the choice to remove the prostate, thus removing any chance of this cancer coming back, think long and hard about what is more important to you: more years on this planet to spend with your family, or an active sex life.

    i dont blame my dad for the choice he made, as it was a personal choice, and who am i to make that for him? but i do wish that he chose a longer, albeit sexually disfunctional life, over a sexually active and shorter life. i miss him terribly.

  • OLD PIRATE 2 Sep 22, 2009

    I can tell the same story. Age 52 with no family history and yet early detection found a small cancer.