Affordable prostate cancer screening is vital | READER COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun|
Mar 02, 2020 | 3:49 PM
I am a prostate cancer survivor. Thank you for publishing the recent letter to the editor from cancer survivors Robert Ginyard and Phil Shulka (“Cost-free prostate cancer screenings save lives (and we should know),” Feb. 28). I completely support the proposed legislation to improve access to and affordability of prostate cancer screening. Such screening should definitely have parity with breast and ovarian cancer screenings in terms of accessibility and costs.
Early screening and treatment saves lives and big piles of health care dollars. I started insisting on prostate cancer screening as part of my annual physical exam once I turned 60, regardless of the cost-sharing. I kept a log of all those PSA test results. I began to notice that my annual PSA results, each of which were still in the “normal” range, were clearly trending upward. When my primary care physician saw the trend in my screening data, he immediately referred me to a urologist/oncologist.
A biopsy confirmed a diagnosis of prostate cancer. That early screening and diagnosis, subsequently treated by a prostatectomy and follow-up radiation therapy, saved my life. Because of the early screening, my cancer was diagnosed as Stage 1, significantly improving my survival chances. My cancer had not spread beyond the gland. Were it not for that screening and early diagnosis, my cancer would have spread to my bone tissue and other organs before I had any symptoms, and I would have suffered a prolonged, painful illness and death. Something else will take me now, but it won’t be prostate cancer, thanks to early screening and diagnosis.
The costs associated with early screening, diagnosis and treatment pale in comparison to the costs that I would have occurred if I had not had the preventive screenings. Without screening, by the time any symptoms appear from prostate cancer, it’s too late. You are usually at Stage 3 or 4, and the cancer has metastasized to other organ systems in the body. With prostate cancer being the most diagnosed cancer among men in Maryland, accessible, cost-free screening with no barriers is a no-brainer — as my loving wife and daughter will attest.
Please help our Maryland men detect and treat prostate cancer as early as possible.