Jacksonville doctor expresses the importance of detecting prostate cancer early for effective treatment

The American Cancer Society projects lung cancer to kill the most people in 2024, but prostate cancer is estimated to be a close second killer, leading other kinds of cancer deaths. A Jacksonville doctor expressed the importance of detecting prostate cancer early so it can be treated effectively.

Martin Luther King Jr’s son, Dexter, is the latest high-profile figure to die as a result of having prostate cancer. While it’s unclear exactly when King was diagnosed, local doctors said early detection significantly increases the chance of successful treatment and survival.

“When diagnosis is delayed, it significantly decreases the survival rate, which is the most important thing we want to talk about. So you get that PSA and you want to do a yearly [examination] because what we do is we look at trends,” Dr. Wesley C. Mills, a family medicine doctor said.

That PSA Mills is referring to is short for “prostate-specific antigen”, which is a protein produced by normal and malignant cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood. It’s something Wesley suggested men start testing for annually, as early as the age of 40, especially African-American men.

“We’re more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and also we’re more likely to die,” Mills said. “So when you compare us to our caucasian counterparts, we’re about 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 2.1 times more likely to die from prostate cancer.”

Doctors are urging men to take a close look at the survivability rate of a prostate cancer diagnosis.

If detected early, 99% of men will survive at least five years after diagnosis. After 10 years, 98% of treated men survive. At 15 years, doctors said 91% of men live after being treated.

If the cancer is detected late in its advanced stages, the survivability rate decreases to only 30%.

Mills said one of the main reasons men don’t get tested is because they don’t have a primary care physician. He stressed that one test can preserve your life.

“I just tried to tell them the reason why we’re doing this, put their mind at ease, listen, at least just want to do the blood test,” Mills said. “If we find something, we may need to do the exam later. But the main starting point is the blood test. It’s non-invasive, it’s easy.”

Most men don’t experience any symptoms when they get prostate cancer, yet another reason why an annual PSA screening is imperative.

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