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This One Is for You, Dad: Prostate Cancer
3/20/2013 4:38:37 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch


   The month of March stirs up such painful memories for me.  My dad passed away from Prostate Cancer.  Dad and I had a very close relationship. He was not just close to me but to all of his children.  It didn’t matter how old we were or what type of activities we were involved in, my dad would be sitting on the sideline cheering us on.  The best way to honor my dad’s memory is by providing information that could possibly extend or save lives.

  Prostate Cancer is high among blacks.  According to PubMed Health, Prostrate Cancer is the most common cause of death in men over age 75.  Prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than 40.


   People who are at higher risk include:


- African American men, who are also likely to develop cancer at every age

- Men who are older than 60

- Men who have a father or brother with Prostate Cancer


Other people at risk include:


- Men who have been around Agent Orange

- Men who use too much alcohol

- Farmers

- Men who eat a diet high in fat, especially animal fat

- Tire plant workers

- Painters

- Men who have been around cadmium


Prostate Cancer is less common in people who do not eat meat (vegetarians).


Symptoms include:


- Delayed or slowed start of urinary stream

- Dribbling or leakage of urine, most often after urinating

- Slow urinary stream

- Straining when urinating or not being able to empty out all of the urine

- Blood in the urine or semen

- Bone pain or tenderness, most often in the lower back and pelvic bones (only when the cancer has spread)


Tests- A biopsy is needed where sample tissues are removed from the Prostate and sent to a lab. A CT Scan and or Bone Scan may also be needed to determine whether the cancer has spread. 


What would have been of great value to me when my father was being treated was the Gleason score.  I had never heard of the Gleason score and how to interpret the range and where my father fell.  My sister was upset when the doctor finally told us that our father was in the last stages.  Since the doctor was able to tell through the Gleason score how far along the cancer had advanced, she wondered why this information was not shared with us sooner.


   The higher the Gleason score, the more likely the cancer has spread beyond the prostate. The Gleason grade tells how fast the cancer might spread.  It grades tumors on a scale of 1-5.  You may have different grades of cancer in one biopsy sample.  The two main grades are added together.  This gives you the Gleason score.

Scores 2 – 5  Low grade prostate cancer

Scores 6 – 7  Intermediate or in the middle grade cancer (most fall within this group)

Scores 8 – 10 High grade cancer


Treatment- depends on many things including the Gleason score and overall health.  Early stage may include Surgery (radical prostatectomy); Radiation therapy (medicines to reduce testosterone levels), Hormones therapy (medication to reduce testosterone levels), or Chemotherapy.


   Prevention may just be in the diet.  According to PubMed Health, you can lower your risk by eating a diet high on Omega-3 fatty acids, low fat, and a vegetarian diet. 

   The end stage of Prostate Cancer is very painful. Take care of yourself!  Be sure to have this conversation with your doctor regarding Prostate Cancer if you are experiencing any of the symptoms described in this article.  Early diagnosis is crucial to the type of treatment program your doctor will suggest. Don’t put off going to the doctor because you fear receiving bad news.  What’s even worst is not going when your life could have been extended with proper treatment.

   Wives drag your husbands screaming to the doctor if you have to. They will thank you later.  I have a son and a grandson. I have brothers, cousins and uncles.  I will follow your example dad and be on the sideline cheering every male out there on to get tested. This one’s for you dad, RIP.


(Note: Health information obtained from PubMed Health. Contact your doctor for more information regarding Prostate exams and Prostate Cancer)



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