The Power in Prostate Cancer Prevention

With a different health “awareness” month coming at you every month, it can become tempting to tune out. Or, you can tune in, and give yourself the opportunity in those 30 or so days to think, learn and reflect on your body, your health and your life.

This month, Prostate Cancer Awareness Month takes center stage, and Any Lab Test Now wants to share some important and encouraging information.

The Facts:

  • One in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
  • One in 41 men will die of prostate cancer.
  • Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men.

Who is “Most “At Risk?

  • African-American men
  • Older men (the average age of diagnosis is 66)
  • Men with a family history

The Good News: (for those who are diagnosed and treated)

  • The 5-year relative survival rate is 99 percent.
  • The 10-year relative survival rate is 98 percent.
  • The 15-year relative survival rate is 96 percent.

It may be tempting to look at some of those stats and risk factors and think prostate cancer won’t affect or harm you. But with a cancer that is often asymptomatic, a simple lab test called the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA test , is the only way to catch the cancer in its early stages. The five-year survival rate in distant stage prostate cancer is a mere 29 percent.

As actor/comedian Ben Stiller, a Caucasian with no family history, found out at age 46, early prevention is key to those favorable survival rates.

“Taking the PSA test saved my life. Literally,” said Stiller in a first-person account of his journey into the world of being a cancer patient and cancer survivor.

To Test or Not to Test

The decision about if or when to do the PSA screening test has come under intense scrutiny, with varying opinions. For instance, the American Cancer Society recommends discussing the test at these stages:

  • Men at age 50, who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
  • Men at age 45, who are at high risk of developing prostate cancer. (African-Americans and men who have a first-degree relative, father, brother or son, diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 65 or younger).
  • Men at age 40, who are at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).

Former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey, Sr., took PSA tests for years before he was diagnosed at 55 years old. As an African-American with a strong family history (four uncles died of the disease), Griffey knew he was high-risk and knew early detection would be key to his survival. He was right. He is now a vocal advocate of PSA testing.

However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently updated its guidelines and recommends:

  • Men aged 55–69 discuss possible screening with their doctor.
  • Men aged 70 and older are advised against routine screening.

Potential reasons for not screening include false positives and over-treatment of what is commonly a slow-growing cancer, which could result in unwanted side effects like incontinence or impotence. However, a more common form of treatment is now being referred to as “watchful waiting.” This active surveillance combines regular PSA testing and digital rectal exams with close monitoring of men with a localized, low-grade prostate cancer, that may never progress to the point of needing more invasive treatments.

At Any Lab Test Now, we encourage men to take control of their health. Our simple PSA can provide results in a matter of days. This test provides valuable information that every man can take to their doctor for a thoughtful discussion about living their longest, healthiest life.

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National Sickle Cell Awareness Month: Do You Need To Be Screened?

As recently as 1970, the average patient with sickle cell disease died in childhood, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Today, patients with sickle cell anemia live into their mid-50s. That’s a pretty amazing improvement, but we still have a long way to go when it comes to treating sickle cell anemia and other related conditions.

September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, which is good news for the 70,000 — 100,000 Americans who are affected by the condition. Any Lab Test Now stands with those affected, to help focus attention on the need for research and treatment of this painful inherited condition

What is Sickle Cell?

Normal red blood cells are round and carry oxygen to all parts of your body. Sickle cell disease occurs when the hemoglobin in the red blood cells is abnormal. They become rigid and take on a “C” or sickle shape — the defining characteristic of the disease. That shape becomes a problem because round blood cells can pass through your body easily, while sickle-shaped blood cells can get stuck, blocking blood vessels. That means oxygen isn’t getting to parts of your body. Not only is it painful — it’s also dangerous. Some common symptoms include:

  • Long-term damage to organs, muscles and bones due to oxygen deprivation
  • Painful swelling of hands and feet, especially after exertion or getting too hot or too cold
  • Deep pain in the bones and the abdomen, which can last for days or even continue long-term
  • Stroke
  • Jaundice and weakness and fatigue (anemia)

Sickle cell disease is inherited. People with ancestry from Africa, India, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and some Latin American countries are more likely to inherit the disease. Here at home, it is estimated that 1 in every 500 African-Americans has sickle cell disease.

Testing is Key.

Since sickle cell disease is an inherited disease, testing is important. Those who carry only one sickle cell gene (known as sickle cell trait) have a 50 percent chance of passing the trait on to a baby. If both parents have the sickle cell, then each child they have has a 1 in 4 chance of being born with sickle cell disease. Some good news is that newborns are required to undergo testing in the hospital for sickle cell disease in all 50 states. This allows doctors to treat babies and children that test positive for the disease with life-saving daily antibiotics.

But, if you want to take your search for answers a step further, Any Lab Test Now can help. If you’re not sure you were tested or if you don’t know your results, we can help. Screening can be helpful for a variety of people, including:

  • Adults considering having children who want to determine the risk of passing the disease along to their newborn.
  • People who know that other family members have sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease and want to assess their own risk.
  • Competitive athletes are especially at risk. Even having just one gene (sickle cell trait) can sometimes be concerning and cause symptoms such as muscle pain. Things become even more dangerous if athletes exercise too strenuously or become overheated. Knowing where you stand can prevent complications.

Your Next Step

If you’re looking for answers, your local Any Lab Test Now can help. We offer the Sickle Cell Anemia Screen. It’s basically two tests with the same directive: to identify the presence of Hemoglobin S. You aren’t required to fast and the screening is safe and discreet. A negative result can give you the peace of mind to move forward. On the flip side, a positive result can help you and your doctor develop a definitive diagnosis.

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Knowledge Is The Key When It Comes To Prostate Cancer

It may seem like a real no-brainer: Shouldn’t every man be screened for prostate cancer once they reach a certain age? The answer to that question isn’t as simple as you might think. If you ask five different organizations, you’ll likely get five different answers. As September unfolds and brings with it National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Any Lab Test Now wants to take a stand. The key to taking control of your health is knowledge, and any important decision should be made with as much knowledge as you can gather.

Knowledge: the Facts

It’s a fact: other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The numbers for 2018 from the American Cancer Society are sobering:

  • An estimated 164,690 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed.
  • An estimated 29,430 men will die from prostate cancer.
  • About 1 man in 41 will die of prostate cancer.

Those numbers can be frightening, but remember this: most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. This is just part of the puzzle that makes this disease so confusing.

Knowledge: the Risks

Different cancers have different risk factors. Some of those risk factors can be changed while others cannot. Consider smoking as a risk factor for lung cancer — it’s easy. Just quit. But you can’t change your family history or your age and those are at the top of the list for known risk factors associated with prostate cancer. What to know:

  • AGE – Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chances of developing the disease go up rapidly after the age of 50.
  • FAMILY HISTORY – There appears to be a genetic factor. Having a father or a brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing the disease.
  • RACE/ETHNICITY – African-American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer and are also twice as likely to die from it than white men. Researchers are not sure why.
  • GEOGRAPHY – Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and on Caribbean islands. The reasons for this are not clear.
  • POSSIBLE FACTORS – Diet, obesity, smoking, chemical exposures, inflammation of the prostate, sexually transmitted infections, and vasectomy have all been studied and may have a less clear link.

The thing to remember here is this: having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that you will get the disease. Likewise, having none of the risk factors is no guarantee that you will not get the disease. What is important is that you know these risks and factor them into your decision.

Knowledge: the Symptoms

Risk factors aside, are there symptoms that you should be aware of that should send you straight to your doctor’s office? Well, like so many issues associated with prostate cancer, the answer is yes — and no. Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. But more advanced prostate cancers can sometimes cause symptoms, such as:

  • Problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream. Also, the need to urinate more often, especially at night.
  • Blood in your urine or semen.
  • Trouble getting an erection.
  • Pain in the hips, back or chest.
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet

Each and every one of these symptoms could be caused by something else! But it’s something you should be aware of and make sure your doctor is aware of as well.

Knowledge: Taking Control of Your Health

At your local Any Lab Test Now, we offer the Prostate Specific Antigen test. It is our belief that it is important to establish a PSA baseline so that you can monitor any changes over time. It’s a decision every man must make for himself, along with his loved ones and his physician. It’s a simple test — without a simple answer. Any Lab Test Now strives to provide you with the knowledge you need to find the answer for yourself.

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