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Prostate Cancer Awareness Could Increase Early Detection

Publication: KXII-TV (CBS), Sherman

Prostate cancer is called a silent killer because it usually doesn't display symptoms in its early stages, when survival rates are highest.

Now doctors and survivors are hoping to raise awareness in men 50 and older so this cancer can be detected and treated sooner.

Henry Plunkett remembers the day he was first diagnosed with cancer.

"The doctors said that my PSA was too high. Well, I didn't know what that meant," Plunkett recalls.

Plunkett is one of thousands of men who receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer each year. On average, one in 38 of these diagnoses is fatal.

"Early detection is the key," said Dr. Amir Faridi, a hematologist and oncologist with Texas Oncology. "As you find the cancer early, there is a greater chance of survival."

Early stages of prostate cancer often have no symptoms but it can be detected through a blood test that looks for elevated levels of PSA--prostate specific antigen.

"A man who's above 50 should start talking to a physician about this test and usually recommend serial PSA test every 2-4 years," said Faridi.

But once a man is diagnosed, there isn't one go-to treatment.

"Radiation therapy or surgery," are two of the most common treatments, according to Faridi.

"There are different variations of the radiation therapy, including brachytherapy, external beam therapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy, and proton therapy," Faridi continued.

Men can be overwhelmed by options and wonder which is the best for them. Plunkett understands this feeling.

"When I got into this, it was all about me, but now since I had to learn for me, I'm able to help others," Plunkett explained.

He leads a prostate cancer support group that works to reduce fear by educating men on different treatments and allowing them to share their personal experiences with the disease.

"We always have the time for every man who comes to go over his individual case and try to help him understand and size up the questions that he'll need to go back and ask his doctors that he was confused or didn't understand," Plunkett said.

Plunkett has helped hundreds of Texoma men through this group, and now he encourages every man to seek help if they're diagnosed.

"No man needs to suffer in silence," Plunkett said. "Nobody needs to go this alone."

Prostate cancer can't be prevented entirely, due to several genetic links.

However, oncologists have found that there is a link between prostate cancer and diet.

People who are obese or have a diet that is high in fats are more likely to develop prostate cancer.

Doctors say that limiting those foods and increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.

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