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UCA to host local prostate screenings

This year, more than 186,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 28,000 will die from the disease. One new case occurs ever 2.5 minutes, and a man dies from prostate cancer every 19 minutes.

Prostate cancer is the No. 2 killer among men, second only to lung cancer, yet few men take the time to have a prostate exam.

The Urology Centers of Alabama (UCA), located in Homewood, will pass through the Black Belt region next week, providing free prostate screenings. The UCA will be in Marengo County on Saturday, Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when it will provide screenings at the Marengo County Health Department at 303 Industrial Dr. in Linden.

“Some of the things we are looking at is screening and getting men screened for prostate cancer,” said UCA director of health education and information Sherry Wilson. “In the state of Alabama, we do not have a high screening rate.”

“Alabama, as a whole, has the third-highest death rate in the country from prostate cancer among African-Americans,” said Dr. Thomas Moody of UCA. “That’s because people don’t get screened, either because of lack of access to care or whatever reason. The Black Belt region of the state is where the concentration of that population is.”

According to the UCA, the death rate from prostate cancer among African-American men is 2 and a half times more than it is for Caucasian men.

Moody said that one of the reasons that prostate cancer deaths are on the rise is because it hasn’t gotten the publicity that breast cancer and other diseases have gotten.

“Before this year, there was no state money for prostate cancer,” he said. “There’s been a lot for cervical and breast cancer. We got a grant from ADECA (the Alabama Dept. of Economic and Community Affairs), and we’ve been to Wilcox and Perry counties, and this Saturday, we will be going to Hale County, and then Marengo after that.”

Moody said there is no reason to avoid getting a prostate exam, especially if having one could save your life.

“It’s totally free, it doesn’t hurt, and it only takes 10 minutes,” he said. “It’s a blood test and an examination. We’ve also committed that, if we find somebody with a problem, we’ll help take care of them regardless of pay status.

“We’re mainly just trying to get the word out about guys getting checked for prostate cancer.”

There are no symptoms for prostate cancer; a person would feel the same if he had it as he would if he didn’t. However, it is very treatable when it is detected early.

“Most women nowadays have made it part of their persona that they know that once a year, they go to get a Pap smear and a mammogram,” Moody said. “It’s not pleasant, but that’s what they do. Men just don’t have that mindset, and we’re trying to change that.”

“This is also about educating wives, sisters, mothers — those people as well,” Wilson said. “We’re asking them to get their guys in to be screened.”

For information about prostate cancer or screenings, contact the Urology Centers of Alabama toll-free at 1 800 452-1464. For more information about the screenings at the Marengo County Health Department, call 295-4205.