Prostate cancer affects 1 in 7 men and will kill nearly 30,000 this year, which is why men from all over the world are participating in Movember.
The November movement has men growing a mustache for charity to raise awareness about men's health such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues like depression. For one gentleman though, awareness came in a different form: through family history.
Ken Burt has been on top of his medical health for years, especially since he has a family history of prostate cancer.
Burt said “My father died in his mid 70's from it...and I know he had to go through some pretty intense chemotherapy while he was enduring it.”
Through annual physicals Burt was able seek out Dr. Karin Dolan, a Urologist from Billings Clinic, when his family doctor noticed his PSA levels or Prostate Specific Antigen blood test had increased from a 2-4.
Dr. Dolan said “If anything seems unusual, if you notice any pain or difficulty, I think getting a PSA definitely would be a reasonable option just to make sure nothing there's going on, especially if you have a family history.”
Dr. Dolan adds screening for prostate cancer usually starts at age 50, but if you have a family history she recommends seeing your family doctor at age 40. While there have been no new treatments for prostate cancer Dr. Dolan said they are always learning more about the cancer. “There's more and more tests coming out that they can run on prostate cancer cells to see if it's more of an aggressive prostate cancer rather than a low grade one.”
Once Burt found out he had an aggressive prostate cancer he was glad he decided to have it treated, a decision in direct relation to watching his father deal with prostate cancer. Burt said sometimes, if not treated, the cancer can grow past the prostate, into the bladder and even the bone, a painful journey his dad's cousin had to go through.
“The annual exam is probably the most important thing for tracking it because it's just a blood test and once they've done that they're going to have the assurance that they're going to be healthy or that they might have something that they need to deal with,” said Burt.
Thanks to his annual physicals, Burt is now a prostate cancer survivor and his son has even taken note, by actively keeping up with his yearly exams too.