Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Breaking the silence on prostate cancer

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 10:16 AM

When Rodney Anderson, 50, had a physical at a local health fair, he asked for a prostate-specific antigen test — which is used to detect prostate cancer. The health workers told him he didn’t need to take the test, since it mostly occurs in older men.

Anderson’s test came back positive. But the bigger surprise came when he told his mother about his diagnosis. She told him that some men in Anderson's immediate family have it, too, but refuse to discuss it.

Based in part on his own experience, Anderson recently founded the Rochester chapter of Us Too, an international network of education and support for prostate cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones. Us Too meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Jewish Community Center, 1200 Edgewood Drive.

This month, however, Us Too meets tomorrow evening, Wednesday, February 13.

More than 232,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the US yearly, and about 30,000 die from the disease. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the US. Men who have immediate family members with the disease are at twice the risk of developing prostate cancer, and African-American men are also at greater risk for this form of cancer.

Many men have difficulty talking about prostate cancer, but the emotional and physical toll can be difficult to handle without support.

“I decided I was going to start talking more about this, and I have the full support of my wife,” Anderson says. “And I encourage other men to do the same.”

It’s hard to say why many men react to prostate cancer with silence. Some may be concerned with post-operation problems or how the disease will impact their relationships.

Patrick Fisher, program coordinator for Us Too in Rochester, says the group's meetings have been well-attended. The meetings feature a speaker who is an expert on topics of interest to the group, Fisher says, stressing that the meetings are open to loved ones, too.

Education and support comprise Us Too’s primary mission, according to its website. But joining a prostate cancer support group serves another important objective: advocacy. Researchers need to learn more about prostate cancer to find better treatment options and a cure. That’s reason enough to keep talking about it.

Information about Us Too can be found at www.ustoo.org or by email: ustoorochesterny@gmail.com.

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