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FOR RELEASE: September 6, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Research and Early Detection of Prostate Cancer Can Save Lives

Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among men, following skin cancer. In Oklahoma, prostate cancer is also the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men, following deaths due to lung cancer. In 1998, 374 men died of prostate cancer in Oklahoma and 1,810 were diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Nationally, more than 198,000 men will learn they have the disease in 2001, and over 31,500 men will lose their lives from it. There is no better time than September, during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, for men to talk with their health care provider about this disease so that informed decisions can be made. Oklahoma State Department of Health officials are asking men, 45 years of age and older, to take responsibility for their prostate health by talking with their health care provider to learn more about diseases of the prostate and the choices available that allow for early detection testing and treatment.

The major risk factors for prostate cancer are age, family history, and race. Older men are at greatest risk of getting prostate cancer. Of the cases reported in Oklahoma, 99 percent were men over 45 years of age. Men with either a brother or father having had prostate cancer are at twice the risk for getting prostate cancer. Men with more than two first-degree family members are at five times the risk for getting prostate cancer. African American men are twice as likely to have prostate cancer than white men.

The two tests to detect prostate cancer are called prostate serum antigen (PSA) and digital rectal examination (DRE), which must be used in combination to make the best screen for abnormal conditions. The PSA is a blood test used to measure the protein from the prostate in the blood. In the DRE test, a physician uses a gloved finger in the rectum to examine the prostate gland for sizes larger than a walnut.

There is disagreement among cancer experts as to the effectiveness of prostate cancer screening because the PSA does not always detect prostate cancers, as about 20 percent are missed. Also an elevated PSA may mean non-cancerous disease of the prostate. About 50 percent of men go through additional tests and cancer is not found.

Oklahoma health care facilities are cooperating in a current research study on ways to prevent prostate cancer. The research study is called SELECT: Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial. Participants should be:

  • male and 55 years of age and older;
  • African-American male and 50 years of age and older;
  • never had prostate cancer;
  • not had other types of cancer in five years or more; and
  • be in good health.

For more information about the study, call the Cancer Information Services of the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-422-6237 or call Integris Oncology Services at 405/949-3870.

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