Thursday, September 25, 2008

LOCAL HEALTH NEWS: Jefferson Offers Free Screenings For Prostate Cancer

(previously published here at

Philadelphia - Philadelphia area residents can get free prostate cancer screenings today at the Bodine Center for Cancer Treatment at 111 South 11th Street at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. The service will be provided between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to all men who come and request it.

The free screenings are part of a research program and include a rectal exam as well as a blood test for levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), testosterone and cholesterol.

"The blood test right now should be done once a year over the age of 50," recommended Dr. Leonard Gomella, chairman of the department of urology at Thomas Jefferson University's Kimmel Cancer Center.

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in the United States, affecting one in six American men. It is the second-leading cancer killer, after lung tumors, among men.

Screening is generally recommended for men aged 40 to 75, and beginning at age 35 if there is family history of prostate cancer or you are of African American or Hispanic background.

The benefits of screening for older men above age 75 has been questioned in recent studies, but discussing your options and risks with your doctor is still best, said Dr. Gomella. "More men die with prostate cancer than of prostate cancer."

Although the government does not endorse PSA screenings and there is currently no cure for the disease, discovering the cancer earlier allows for possible treatment of symptoms and monitoring for continued progression.

The American Cancer Society notes that the year 2007 saw 218,890 men diagnosed in the U.S. and about 27,050 deaths. Worldwide, approximately 780,000 men are diagnosed with it each year, 250,000 of whom die.

The event is in its 19th year and is sponsored by Jefferson's Kimmel Cancer Center and the Foundation for Breast and Prostate Health. The month of September is the country's newly designated Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Heather J. Chin can be reached at

©The Evening Bulletin 2008

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