By Barb Arland-Fye
Bill Palos is among more than 2 million male survivors of prostate cancer in the United States and leads a local support group that hopes to encourage churches to spread awareness about the disease.
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths for men in this country, but early detection can keep it from being deadly, said Palos, who leads US TOO Greater Quad Cities. He notes that this month is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
Palos, 76, a member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Coal Valley, Ill., said he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 59. Two of his brothers died from the disease, as did their father.
The retired chief of weapons artillery at Rock Island Arsenal’s U.S. Armament Command wants to help other men avoid the suffering that his family experienced because of prostate cancer.
US TOO International Prostate Cancer Education & Support Network recommends that men have annual prostate examinations that include both a PSA blood test and a digital rectal examination beginning at age 40. However, African American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer should begin testing at age 35.
The Quad-City chapter of US TOO has funding available for testing groups of men in minority communities. “We’d like to have the churches help us get that going,” Palos said.
“Very low (PSA) readings are an indication that you don’t have a problem. A rising PSA indicates there might be a problem. A lot of things can raise your PSA: riding a horse, riding a motorcycle, for example. Guys don’t know about that,” Palos said.
He hopes women will take a lead role in insisting that their husbands be tested, and regularly. He welcomes churches to contact him for information and the opportunity to give a talk to members.
“We want people to know we have a support group here and that men who get diagnosed with prostate cancer have information available to them. I’ll provide them with all kinds of free information and I’ll talk to them in their homes about the different treatment alternatives.”
Support group meetings include talks by doctors who discuss alternatives available for treating prostate cancer. Wives also attend because “they’re suffering as much as their husbands … it’s a family problem,” Palos said. “One of the things we try to emphasize to everybody is “Don’t lose faith … don’t give up on prayer.”
The support group generally meets the third Thursday of each month, but not in December. Meetings are held from 7-9 p.m. at Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island, Ill., except for two months of the year when they are held at Genesis Medical Center in Davenport at the Adler Heart Center. For more information, contact Palos by phone at (309) 799-3621 or by email at email@example.com. Additional information about prostate cancer is available at www.ustoo.org.
Prostate cancer statistics
Statistics from www.ustoo.org:
More than 2 million U.S. men are survivors of prostate cancer.
Every year over 232,090 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 30,350 die. If detected early, prostate cancer is often treatable.
One in six men is at a lifetime risk of prostate cancer.
A man with one close relative with the disease has double the risk. With two close relatives, his risk is five-fold. With three, the chance is 97 percent.
Two men every five minutes are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
African American males have a prostate cancer incidence rate up to 60 percent higher than white males and double the mortality (death) rate of white males. Every 100 minutes an African American male dies from prostate cancer.
Men with a body mass index over 32.5 have about a one-third greater risk of dying from prostate cancer than men who are not obese.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American males today.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States.
Prostate cancer is mainly found in men age 55 or over with an average age of 70 at the time of diagnosis.
Majority of deaths from prostate cancer are related to advanced disease with metastases.