Two years later, Bob remains cancer-free and seems to have overcome his allergy to doctors. But whenever he goes for his PSA test we think about what could have been and, unfortunately, what still could be: that Bob has a cancer for which there is no cure, that the levels of funding for prostate cancer research and awareness woefully lag behind breast cancer, that primary care doctors are being advised not to recommend a simple, effective screening test to a population that is hesitant about the process to begin with.
While the USPSTF says that screening has a very small potential benefit and can cause significant harm, our experience shows the exact opposite: a small potential risk with a very significant benefit. Had we not insisted on the inexpensive screening test when we did Bob would have been on a course to be one of the 30,000 men who die from the disease each year.
Again this September, our third Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we will proudly wear blue ribbon pins and walk in the ZERO Cancer event. We will tell our story and hope it saves lives. We also look forward to a September day when the White House shines blue and the NFL adopts a light-blue ribbon on its uniforms. We remain hopeful that with increased awareness and the work of very smart researchers and advocates around the world, there will be better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat prostate cancer. And most importantly, we look forward to the day that doctors no longer have to say those dreaded words: There is no cure.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Regular checkups are vital to good health. Whether or not to get a PSA screening is an individual choice that men should make in consultation with their partner and their primary care physician.