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As men age, they need to be aware of prostate cancer

As men age, they need to be aware of prostate cancer

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Do I really need a rectal exam?

This is a question every male over 50 asks.

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of death in men in the United States. This year, nearly 192,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

September is Prostate Cancer Month, and as a urologist, it’s my duty to increase awareness and encourage men to get into the game and know their risk for prostate cancer.

Risk factors associated with prostate disease include age, race and family history. Approximately one out of every nine men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.

The odds increase to one out of six in African-American men, and one out of five if they have a family member with prostate disease.

Early detection is key when it comes to this disease. Talking to your physician about prostate screening is essential.

The American Urological Association (AUA) recommends men ages 55 to 69 talk to their health care provider about testing for prostate cancer. If you are at a higher risk factor for the disease, you should consider testing at age 40 to 54 years of age.

All men are at risk for prostate cancer as we grow older.

How is prostate cancer diagnosed?

The first step should be to get screened. This means testing even if you have no symptoms. A digital rectal examination and prostatic specific antigen (PSA) blood test are two tests used to screen for prostate cancer.

Abnormal results do not always mean you have cancer. Newer tests are now available that are less intrusive and could save your life.

Urologists now have the ability to use an MRI scan of the prostate to assist with diagnosis as well as fusion biopsies. A fusion biopsy is when a biopsy is performed in a specific high-risk area of the prostate, using results from the MRI scan and an ultrasound.

Making the choice to be screened for prostate cancer is very personal. Before you decide to get tested, talk to your health care provider about your risks, including your personal and family history.

The decision is yours, and it could save your life.

Dr. J. Kevin O’Kelly is a urologist, at MUSC Health-Urology on the campus of the MUSC Health Marion Medical Center. He specializes in the treatment and diagnosis of urological conditions. He offers treatment for a full range of conditions, including but not limited to: adult and pediatric urology; prostate disease, kidney and bladder cancers; kidney stone disease; voiding dysfunction, infertility and erectile dysfunction. Dr. O’Kelly is accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment, call 843-431-2140 or visit

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My time as an athletic training student and now a certified athletic trainer has given me the opportunity to witness and treat a variety of athletic injuries.

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