Researchers said African-American men are most at risk for prostate cancer, as are men with a family history of prostate cancer. Health professionals urge annual screening for those groups at age 40 while all others can begin by age 50.
The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut, just beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. Doctors are able to feel the prostate through a rectal examination. They look for hard spots, nodules, enlargement or asymmetry.
A complete exam includes a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test. Health experts said elevated PSA levels in the blood could be a sign of cancer, but one test and one PSA number is not always enough.
"Today, we really watch the rise of PSA, what we call PSA velocity, so we watch the rise over years," said Dr. Culley Carson, UNC Hospitals Chief of Urology.
Six years ago, Don Reinfurt's PSA score did not raise concerns by itself, but that's why it's paired with a rectal exam.
"The rectal exam indicated that there might be a problem. I went on and had a biopsy and, fortunate for me, it was early-stage (prostate cancer)," said Reinfurt.
In early-stage prostate cancer, the tumor is still within the prostate. In advanced stages, the cancer spreads beyond the gland and into the lymph system, the bladder or other body tissues. Reinfurt had surgery to remove the prostate.
"I'm now six years post surgery and as close to being out of the woods as they say you can be," said Reinfut.
Doctors recommend annual screening, which UNC Hospitals offers free of charge on Wednesday, Sept. 27 and Thursday, Sept. 28 from 1 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Parking is also free for screening participants.
For more information about free prostate cancer screening, call
. No appointment is necessary, and walk-ins are welcome.
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