TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

September 21, 2012

Seminar reminds men to ‘know your stats’

Awareness event held during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble/Staff writer

Those who came to Thursday’s seminar on prostate cancer at the Corbin Technology Center were called “The Blue Team.”

They came armed with blue bands, signifying the fight against the disease that mainly affects men who are 45 years of age and older. Behind the speaker’s podium, a pair of blue boxing gloves hammered home the point that early detection of prostate cancer is the key to treatment.

Directly across the podium was a large blue ribbon, made up of over a thousand blue ribbons — a reminder that this month of September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

The ribbons also represent the number of prostate cancer patients seen by Dr. Stephen Woolums and his staff at Baptist Regional Medical Center last year.

“The public needs to know what’s available here locally. And that’s the purpose of this tonight. To make them aware of prostate cancer and what we have to offer. That’s the message,” said Woolums, a urologist at BRMC.

And like football, baseball and other sports, the mostly male crowd was encouraged to remember three words — know your stats.

Stats, or statistics — like the fact that prostate cancer is the number one type of cancer in men, but the number two cause of cancer deaths in men.  That one in six men will get prostate cancer sometime in his life. That nearly 100 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer while it’s still in the early stages are still alive five years from diagnosis. And the fact that testing involves a simple blood test and a physical exam, which takes around 10 minutes.

Many who came took that test, called a Prostate-Specific Antigen test, or “PSA test.”

“PSA is prostate-specific. It’s the only FDA-approved screening tool we have for prostate cancer. Before PSA was used in 1987, two-thirds of prostate cancer was metastic (outside the prostate) and incurable at the time of diagnosis,” noted Woolums.

Since the introduction of the PSA test, Woolums said the results have been very promising to those who have the early symptoms.

“Mortality rates from prostate cancer have gone down 30 percent as a result. Because of PSA, 30 percent fewer people are dying from prostate cancer.”

In the fight against the disease, the test — along with early detection and another aid in the battle — can help deliver a one-two punch.

“It’s important to have the PSA test because it indicates disease. It indicates problems with the prostate before you have incurable disease. You can only do PSA, but a digital rectal exam completes the screening process. Twenty-five percent of men with a normal PSA will have prostate cancer, and that’s where the digital rectal exam helps find cancers that don’t have elevated PSA’s. If you have both, you have a higher detection of prostate cancer,” Wollums stated.

Wollums was also one of two guest speakers at the event, sponsored by BRMC and Mix 96 FM radio. The other guest speaker was Sam Dick, a news anchor at Lexington’s WKYT-TV. A prostate cancer survivor himself, Dick shared his experiences about his battle with the disease, and why early detection is so important.

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