The process of going to a hospital, or any other healthcare facility, can be an unpleasant and stressful one. Going for a prostate cancer test can add to a man’s hesitancy.
Would a change of scenery help to get this important early detection procedure done? The Buffalo Sabres and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center have just the solution: a prostate cancer early detection event at KeyBank Center, featuring appearances by Sabres alumni, giveaways, prizes, raffles and refreshments.
The event takes place on Thursday, November 16 from 3-7 p.m. and participants are asked to register in advance by going to roswellpark.org/onegoal.
What to expect
“We’ll have a little chat with the person, get an idea of their family history, talk about whether they have any symptoms or anything happening that might be worrisome. We’ll ask whether they’ve had prostate checks in the past,” says Ahmed Aly Hussein Aly, MD, a urologist at Roswell Park. Each person will be offered a blood test and a digital rectal exam, as this is considered the best way to determine if further evaluation is needed.
Offering these clinical services at a hockey arena might make it easier and less stressful for men who have been hesitant to have their prostate checked, Dr. Aly says. “We can try to make the hospital or doctor’s office as friendly as possible, but it’s still a hospital,” he says. “The ability to carry out events like this in the community, or in a hockey arena, might make the whole process a little more fun or at least less stressful.”
Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, affecting one in eight men and is the cause of death in one in every 41 men, Dr. Aly says. “Prostate cancer is not only common but it usually presents without symptoms in the early stages. That’s why screening is so important.”
One team, one goal
Learn more about the Buffalo Sabres and Roswell Park free prostate cancer screening event at KeyBank Center.Learn More
Routine exams are recommended for men 45 and up
Men are encouraged to get their prostate examined regularly starting at age 45, or age 40 if a man has a family history of prostate cancer or knows that he has a genetic mutation that increases their risk of developing the disease. Black men are encouraged to start their annual exams at age 40 because among this group, prostate cancer is more commonly diagnosed at younger ages and more likely to be an aggressive type of the disease. “Black men have a higher chance of diagnosis at a younger age, needing more aggressive treatment or more kinds of treatment later on. It’s not really known for certain if it’s the biology of the disease or if they harbor different genetic mutations, or if it’s related to disparities of care, or perhaps both,” Dr. Aly says.
Ideally, evaluation should include a digital rectal exam and a blood test that looks for elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen, a special protein that can indicate the presence of cancer. But men who only want to have the blood test during the event can do that as well, Dr. Aly says. “We encourage everyone to get both because that’s the ideal.”
Dr. Aly wants men to know the exam itself takes less than 10 seconds, total, and “it’s not as bad as it sounds. Getting the patient ready and in position takes maybe a minute or two. Everything is private, HIPPA-compliant and really fast. We try to be as gentle as possible to minimize any discomfort.”
He’s glad for the chance to offer prostate exams out in the community and considers it a service. “It’s important to send the message that prostate cancer is very common and, when diagnosed in an early stage, a cure is possible with no or minimal effects on the quality of life. Many men will be concerned about problems with urination or sexual function, and even when they happen, they can be managed. Managing cancer doesn’t have to be detrimental to function. We can try to minimize the cost of cure and preserve quality of life. Problems with urination or sexual function can be dealt with using something as simple as physical therapy, different classes of medications or up to a more intense treatment like an implant or artificial sphincter.”
Monitoring is important to catch early-stage disease
Some men might have had the blood test done for several years and then stopped going because their levels never changed, but unfortunately many men find they’ve developed prostate cancer in the meantime. “If there’s anything good about prostate cancer, it’s that many patients might not need treatment, we just have to monitor their PSA levels to make sure their disease is stable. That said, some patients do progress and, as long as they are followed closely, we’re still able to find the disease at a stage where a cure is possible. For men who have advanced prostate cancer, we currently have more treatment options available now. We have newer generations of hormonal therapy and we can combine hormonal therapy with special types of chemotherapy.”
There will be appointments offered every hour during the early detection event on November 16 and pre-registration is required. “It’s always good to interact with people,” Dr. Aly says. “This is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about the disease. If, at the end of the day, I see 50 men, it’s not just those men who are learning about prostate cancer, because they’ll talk to their friends and relatives and their community. You’re spreading the word everywhere. This is something I’m looking forward to.”
Please complete the registration form to determine if you are eligible for the prostate cancer early detection clinic on Thursday, November 16, 2023.Register