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FOR RELEASE: June 15, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Father's Day Focuses on Need for Prostate Screening

State health officials want to encourage the public to use this Father's Day to remind a loved one of the importance of screening for prostate cancer. You could save a life.

Prostate cancer is a disease of older men, increasing faster with age than any other major cancer. The typical patient is between ages of 65 – 74 at the time of diagnosis. Because of the slow, and in many cases asymptomatic progression of the disease, many men have it without knowing it, unless they undergo routine screening.

In Oklahoma, an estimated 2,100 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and an estimated 450 will die from the disease this year. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer other than skin cancer among men in the United States. It is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer-related death.

The American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association recommend that beginning at age 50, men have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and a digital rectal examination (DRE) annually. These organizations also recommend that screening start at age 40 for high-risk groups, such as men with a family history of prostate cancer and men of African descent.

During 1991 – 1995, Oklahoma had the 11th lowest prostate cancer mortality rate. From 1993 – 1998, the average age-adjusted prostate cancer mortality rate for Oklahoma was 25.7 cases per 100,000 male population, compared to 26.1 cases per 100,000 male population nationally.

Oklahoma mortality rates in 1998 were at an all time low of 18.7 cases per 100,000 male population. However, age adjusted rates for African-American men remain significantly higher (40.6/100,000) as compared to age adjusted rates of white men (18.1/100,000). State health officials indicated that prostate mortality rates began to decline around 1992, which is consistent with PSA screening, which began in the late 1980s. The most effective method of diagnosing precancerous conditions and localized prostate cancer is routine screening using PSA and DRE.

Overall survival for prostate cancer is around 90 percent and it is close to 99 percent among those cases diagnosed early.

Recommendations include more public and professional education programs about PSA testing; screening guidelines for high-risk men; clear and understandable information given to men with a positive diagnosis of prostate cancer as to the risks and benefits of treatment interventions; and continuous surveillance of the disease.

For more information about prostate cancer screening, call 1-888-669-5934.

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