American Cancer Society stresses importance of prostate cancer decisions

American Cancer Society stresses importance of prostate cancer decisions


For men and their loved ones, fear and confusion are two of the many issues surrounding prostate cancer. Approximately 189,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. According to the American Cancer Society, the nation’s leading voluntary health organization, uncertainty over testing and treatment can cause some men to ignore the realities of the cancer. And in some cases, men will make rash decisions about their health without fully understanding all available options.

“All men over the age of 50, and African-American men over the age of 45, should talk with their doctor so that they can make an appropriate plan for cancer screenings and treatments,” said Dr. Christine Duranceau, president of the Northern Illinois Region Board of Directors of American Cancer Society. “Although it’s not always the easiest thing for men to make an appointment for, talking with your doctor about prostate cancer screening and treatment options is tremendously important.”

The American Cancer Society’s messages on prostate cancer are:

l Get as much information about prostate health as you can.

l Talk with your doctor to determine your personal risk for prostate cancer.

l Understand all available testing and treatment options, so you can make an informed decision.

l Contact the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 for information about all aspects of prostate cancer. This toll-free number is available 24 hours a day.

Many African-American men don’t realize they are at higher risk for prostate cancer and two times more likely to die from the disease than other American men. And for all men, age and family history are risk factors. The American Cancer Society estimates more than 30,000 men in the United States will die from this disease this year, accounting for approximately 11 percent of all male cancer-related deaths.

That’s why the American Cancer Society strongly urges universal access to and education about prostate screening options. The Society recommends both the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) for men who decide to be tested. Once diagnosed, the prognosis for any prostate cancer patient depends on the extent of the cancer, the course of treatment selected and other individual aspects.

In August of 2000, the American Cancer Society updated its 1997 prostate cancer early detection guidelines. Changes to the guidelines were recommended based on consensus reached by a panel of leading medical experts, scientists, advocates and interested members of the public who conducted a comprehensive review of current research. As more men were tested and the implications of testing and treatment became more widely studied, the need for men to understand the debate on prostate cancer testing and treatment became apparent.

The new American Cancer Society guidelines are recommendations, not rules. Written for both doctors and the public, the guidelines are flexible in order to accommodate individual medical and personal needs, and are subject to revision based on new research evidence. They are:

l Men 50 and older should be offered early detection tests (PSA and DRE) annually.

l Men at high risk (family history, African-Americans) should begin early detection testing (PSA and DRE) at age 45.

Given the implications of early detection testing, the American Cancer Society encourages men to consider it carefully. Some men who get tested may benefit from early detection and treatment, thereby living longer; but other men may have complications from treatment without achieving any significant benefit. The American Cancer Society also believes it is reasonable to caution medical professionals that screening men with less than a 10-year life expectancy may be inappropriate.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy and service.

The Society’s Illinois Division has more than 120,000 volunteers and 250 staff members fighting cancer in the state.

For more information, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit

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