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Action called for as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month closes

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month calls for action
Posted at 5:42 PM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 19:52:48-04

Thomas McGiniss was in his car with his wife, a traveling nurse, when the results from a test for pancreatic cancer came through the car's speakerphone.

"I had no idea what a PSA of 122 was.  I had no idea.  She starts crying immediately and pulled over just breaking down. I had no idea," he said.

If a person has a PSA of 4.0 or higher, a doctor may recommend a more direct test called a biopsy.

McGinnis learned when symptoms presented themselves, despite a medical background which included many other kinds of tests and surgeries.  He had been late for work as a fleet driver for a major rental car agency due to frequent trips to the bathroom.  Coworkers, sensing danger, advised him to go to the hospital that night.

Several tests did not reveal cancer, but one eventually did.

"Men need to talk more about this, and I just don't see that we do," he says.

Dr. Joe Brooks, an oncologist at St. Alphonsus hospital in Boise says that men should not wait for symptoms to get help. He says people need to get into being healthy, including working out 5 days a week, and to get to the doctor's office at least once a year for a checkup.

"We know that PSA's detect cancer 5 to 10 years earlier than when symptoms present such as pain," he says.  "Men who do not have screening have nearly twice the risk of developing a more aggressive form of cancer which potentially, and likely, fatal."

Although doctors tend to put timelines to disease and patients, Thomas McGinnis says of himself: "I don't have an expiration date. I've heard of people having two to three years. I've heard of 20. I'm going for 40."

Read the presidential proclamation of National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month here.

Read more about prostate cancer here.