Sept. 28, 3008 — With the prostate cancer rate among black men almost three times higher than men of European descent, Saturday's public screening at medical facilities on St. Thomas and St. John suggested a growing local awareness of the problem.
"We had 189 people compared to 157 last year," said the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute Administrator Edward B. Aribisala. Aribisala said he has spent the preceding weeks visiting churches, and appearing on radio and television to promote the testing.
On St. John, a 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. screening also took place at the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center where, Aribisala said, 39 people were tested, more than double last year's tally there.
This is the third year that the low-cost prostate cancer blood and rectal screening have been offered, enabling the public to test for $25 compared to a price of 10 times that amount for private physician and laboratory services, according to Aribisala. A half-dozen doctors volunteered their time and expertise to run the tests at the institute.
Scientists don't know why, but not only do black men record a greater incidence of prostate cancer, but they die from the disease at twice the rate of Europeans.
Men aged 45 and older are advised to receive annual screenings; after age 40 if there's a history in the family.
Thirty-six year old Kevin Arnold wasn't taking any chances. At the urging of his friend Beverlin Samuel, Arnold decided it was time he got tested for a disease that killed both his father and grandfather, and also struck his uncle.
"At my father's funeral my uncle made a promise that my father would be the last one in the family line to die of this," Arnold said.
Aribisala heard Arnold's story and gave him a high-five. "Very smart man!" Aribisala declared.
Pulling some paper work from the nearby counter, Aribisala said, he can't encourage men to do what he himself won't do, then unfurled his signed testing form.
"I already paid my money and have my number," he said.
There are two ways to detect prostate cancer, through a blood test and a digital rectal exam, and both are recommended. The rectal exam detects problems immediately, which the blood test could later reinforce or discount. Only about a dozen of Saturday's CKCI patients declined the rectal exam, according to Aribisala. He said a total of three men at his center were referred to a urologist for diagnostic work, based on symptoms detected through the rectal exam.
Results of the blood test will be ready by next weekend, according to Aribisala. If the results do not indicate a problem, no further communication will take place. If there is a problem indicated, the patient will receive a call from a physician.
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