Northwestern Medicine Physician Teams Up With Sports Broadcaster to Shut Out Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer awareness campaign aims to reach male sports fans
One in six men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime; Ed Randall was one of those men. The longtime sports broadcaster had a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test during a routine doctor’s visit. He felt fine, but the test revealed he had cancer. Luckily, Randall’s cancer was discovered early and treated. He is now cancer-free, but is using his experience and his platform as a broadcaster to encourage other men to get screened for prostate cancer.
Combining his love of sports and his passion to educate men about prostate cancer, Randall created Fans for the Cure, a non-profit aimed at promoting prostate cancer screening at sporting events. Northwestern Medicine urologist Chris Gonzalez, MD, is on the organization’s medical advisory board and has teamed up with Randall to offer free prostate cancer screening events at a number of Chicago sporting events, including a Chicago Blackhawks game on March 23.
“Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America and it is the second leading cause of cancer death in men” explained Gonzalez. “A man is actually 33 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is with breast cancer. The good news is that while prostate cancer is common, it is also highly treatable when caught early.”
Prostate cancer affects 240,000 men in the United States each year, enough to fill the United Center 12 times. “If you are at a sporting event, look down any random row of fans. One in six men sitting there will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, one in four if he is African-American,” said Randall.
The disease is most commonly diagnosed in men over the age of 65, but it can affect men at any age. Randall was diagnosed at 47. He is a prime example of the value of early diagnosis and why screening is vital. “A quick blood test during a routine exam saved my life,” said Randall. “Men need to be proactive caretakers of their own health. They need to get in to see their doctors and they need to get screened for this disease.”
Aside from age, risk factors for prostate cancer include family history and race. African American men are greatest risk for prostate cancer, with rates being as high as one in four men.
“In its early stages, prostate cancer may not cause symptoms, making screening extremely important in detecting the disease,” said Gonzalez. “Men over the age of 40 should begin discussing prostate cancer with their physicians. Considerations should be made based on each patient’s history and risk factors. It’s important to talk with your physician to determine what is best for you.”
Symptoms of advanced prostate cancer include trouble urinating; decreased force in the stream of urine, blood in the urine and/or semen; swelling in the legs; discomfort in the pelvic area; and bone pain.
There are two common methods to screen for prostate cancer: PSA test and the digital rectal exam (DRE). The PSA test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA, a substance made by the prostate. Elevated levels may indicate prostate cancer. The DRE test is a physical exam that allows a clinician to feel if the prostate is enlarged or has bumps or other abnormalities.
Together, Gonzalez and Randall hope that their efforts will help save lives. “Even if at the free screening we only detect cancer in one patient, we are making a huge difference by educating men about their health,” said Gonzalez. “The more we talk about prostate cancer and encourage screening, the more lives we can save.”
To find a physician or to learn more about prostate cancer screening, visit Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s physician finder. For a list of upcoming screenings through Fans for a Cure, including the Blackhawks event, visit www.fansforthecure.org.