EDITORIAL: Get educated on prostate cancer

York Dispatch
  • According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, 29,000 men die each year of prostate cancer.
  • Often nonaggressive, if diagnosed early, the prognosis is good.
  • September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a time to get informed about the disease.

September has been designated Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. It is a month for men to be aware and informed so they can avoid becoming an unfortunate statistic.

Prostate cancer is a complex disease, often nonaggressive, though some 29,000 men will die of the disease each year. It’s the second leading cause of cancer death in U.S. men, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF).

Although there is some debate over whether men should be screened for prostate cancer, it’s important for men to understand those screening methods in order to make informed choices.

That’s because, if prostate cancer is diagnosed early, the five-year survival rate is almost 100 percent, according to the PCF. At the 10-year point, the foundation reports, 98 percent of men diagnosed early survive the disease.

Gov. Wolf: Doctors anticipate clean bill of health

This past week, Gov. Tom Wolf, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February, told Dispatch reporter Alyssa Jackson he may receive a clean bill of health as soon as this month. Given the nature of the awareness campaign taking place in September, the timing would be of significance.

Gov. Tom Wolf, D-Pa., speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Wolf, who went public with his prostate cancer diagnosis in February, had a brachytherapy proceudure about two months ago. The treatment involves injecting radioactive seeds at the top side of the prostate gland near the bladder. Sixteen to 18 needles are used to implant the seeds, and each needle contains two to five seeds each, according to Dr. Gregory Fortier, a radiation oncologist with WellSpan York Hospital Cancer Center.

"I don’t mean to make light of this because I know it’s very serious, but they got it early enough and its been a nonevent in my life," Wolf told the Dispatch. "It’s been an interesting experience how mild the consequences of the procedure have been."

He said the cancer treatment has not affected his ability to perform his duties as governor, thanks to the early intervention.

Gov. Wolf applauded for going public with cancer diagnosis

According to the American Cancer Society, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, and one in 38 will die from it. The average age to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is 66. Wolf is 67 years old.

The PCF brochure "An Introduction to Prostate Cancer" is designed to help men, their families and friends quickly understand the risk factors for prostate cancer, find out how it is diagnosed and review different treatment options.

While health awareness months can feel a bit contrived — shouldn’t we pay attention to our health no matter the month — they actually go a long way to bringing education and prevention to the forefront.

So this September, get informed about prostate cancer. It could save you — or someone you love.