The Urology Health Foundation will provide free prostate cancer screenings from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, at the Madison County Health Department, 301 Max Luther Drive in Huntsville.

Founded in 2003 by Birmingham urologist Dr. Thomas Moody, the foundation partners with the Alabama Department of Public Health to provide free screenings to men age 40 and older, especially in underserved areas of the state.

In its early stages, prostate cancer has no noticeable symptoms, so regular screening is essential to identify the disease before it is too advanced to cure.

Since the rise of widespread screening, the death rate from prostate cancer has declined by more than 40 percent.

Moody says regular screening is the best way to maximize a man's chance of discovering the cancer while it is still in its early — and most curable — stage, according to a press release from the Urology Health Foundation.

“Early detection and treatment are key factors in addressing prostate cancer,” Moody said. “That is why men are encouraged to come to the Madison Health Department to be screened.”

Takes 10 minutes

Screening involves a simple blood test and a physical exam, which together take about 10 minutes. The blood test checks prostate-specific antigen levels. If PSA readings are elevated, this could indicate cancer is present in the prostate.

The physical exam includes a digital rectal exam in which the doctor examines the prostate gland, which is located near the rectum. Bumps or hard places on the prostate may indicate the damaging effects of cancer.

The foundation offers a program that helps low-income patients who test positive for abnormalities get treatment at no cost. Qualified cancer screening participants may also be eligible for transportation assistance to and from treatment centers through the foundation.

Risk factors

Who is most likely to develop prostate cancer? Here's what recent statistics show:

• Prostate cancer will affect one in six American men during their lifetime;

• Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States;

• Prostate cancer risk increases with age;

• African-American men have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world and are more likely to die of the disease than Caucasian men;

• Men with a family history of prostate cancer are at greater risk of developing the disease; and

• Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer are more likely to have an advanced case that is more difficult to treat.

Prevention

Although there is much debate surrounding the prevention of prostate cancer, the American Cancer Society says eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight may reduce the risk of developing the disease.

No appointment necessary for a prostate cancer screening. For more information, call the Madison County Health Department at 256-539-3711.

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