MOBILE, Ala (WPMI) In my line of work, I have been honored to emcee numerous charity events. One of my favorites is the "Vintage Affair" fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
Each year I introduce a guest speaker who, with the help of the ACS, is continuing the fight. I listen to the stories, and think how healthy, and lucky, I have been. But that all changed on October third.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, nearly a quarter million are diagnosed annually. Close to 30 thousand die from the disease each year.
Dr. Harbour Stephens, a urologist in Mobile said, "People who have a first degree relative. Brother, uncle dad, have about an 11 percent increased risk of prostate cancer."
My father had prostate cancer when he passed away, so my lovely wife Jill suggested I get a PSA test. I had to admit it, I didn't know what a PSA test was.
"In the late 80's, the PSA test came in," said Stephens. "And at that point, 35 percent of the people we operated on, we were finding had advanced disease. And since the advent of PSA testing, that's probably down to about 4 percent."
There is however, controversy about the test. The Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies don't recommend it."
Dr. Scott Tully, a urologist in Birmingham said, "We can pick these cancers up, and decrease death rates. And since the PSA era, we've seen a 30 percent decrease in death rates in this country."
After assessing the possible side effects, which can be life altering, we moved forward and set a date for surgery. Dr. Tully removed my prostate with aid of the Di Vinci surgical robot. A successful surgery mainly thanks to Dr. Tully's expertise. But also because the cancer was detected early because of a PSA test.
"To not screen at all throws us back to another era, where we had more advanced cancers and patients with incurable disease." said Tully.
Stephens added, "There is really nothing you can do to prevent it, because it is very common. The important thing is to pick it up early, therefore it is treatable."
On February 4th, 2013, Greg received his latest PSA test results. After months of worry, surgery, recovery and the care and skill of Dr. Harbour Stephens and Dr. Scott Tully, Greg is now cancer free. He will have follow-up tests for the next 5 years. If his PSA tests continue to be zero, doctors say he will have kicked cancer.