Clearwater, Florida - The number is breathtaking. Some 28,000 men die every year due to prostate cancer. But if prostate cancer is found early during a routine screening, it can be treatable.
Prostate cancer was the last thing on Bob Valenti's mind. He's a Bay area father with a 4-year-old and an 11-year-old to raise. He says, "I was healthy as an ox."
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"I had zero symptoms," he adds. "I'm not the kind of person that takes even an aspirin. I don't drink. I don't smoke."
Despite that, when Valenti turned 50, his wife made him an appointment for a prostate cancer screening. That may have saved his life. Bob says, "There were 12 biopsies. Four came back with cancers in them."
Valenti says he was shocked to learn he had prostate cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends testing starting at the age of 50 for men with an average risk, but men considered high risk should begin screening at the age of 45. That includes African-American men who have a father, brother or son diagnosed with prostate cancer who are younger than 65.
Doctors at Morton Plant Mease in Clearwater gave Bob Valenti several options. He chose robotic surgery, which he says was his best option to keep the cancer from coming back. He says he asked the doctor what would have happened if he'd skipped that routine screening appointment. "The doctor said quite honestly, 'You would be dead in five years.'"
And that's why Valenti is trying to spread the word that early detection is critical. He says, "Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death. Cancer deaths among men are only second to lung cancer, but it's a very treatable cancer if caught in time."
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and Morton Plant Mease is presenting several special lectures and free screenings. A 5K run/walk to help raise awareness is slated for next Saturday.
To help promote prevention and detection of prostate cancer, three free screenings events are being offered this month. The screenings include educational information, digital rectal exams (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests.
• Friday, September 9, Ptak Orthopaedic and Neuroscience Pavilion (Morton Plant Hospital campus), Suite 206, Clearwater
o Screenings: 1:30-4 p.m.,
o Lecture: Latest Advances in the Treatment of Prostate Cancer and Enlarged Prostate, Craig Barkley, MD, urologist
• Friday, September 9, Mease Countryside Medical Arts Building, Suite 300, Safety Harbor
o Screenings: 1:30-4 p.m.
o Lecture: Latest Advances in the Treatment of Prostate Cancer and Enlarged Prostate, Martin B. Richman, MD, urologist
• Monday, September 26, Morton Plant North Bay, Bekesh Education and Conference Center, 6600 Madison St., New Port Richey
o Screenings: 1:30-4 p.m.
o Lecture: What You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer, Richard Rabinowitz, MD, urologist
Space for the lectures and interactive sessions is limited and reservations are required.
For information, or reservations, call (727) 253-4035 or click here and then click on classes and events.
In addition to the lectures and screenings, the Morton Plant Mease Foundation's Prostate Cancer Awareness Race is scheduled for Saturday, September 10.
The family-friendly 5K run/walk is presented by Urology Specialists of West Florida, and benefits Morton Plant Mease community screenings and education services and assists prostate cancer patients who may not have the resources for treatment.
The 5K will kick off at 7:30 a.m. on the Morton Plant Hospital campus and the course will take runners through surrounding waterfront neighborhoods. There will also be a Kids Dash starting at 9 a.m.
Participants can register for race by clicking here.
The registration fee is $30. The registration fee for the Kids Dash is $10. Online registration closes Sept. 7, with late registration available Sept. 9 and day of the race.