[UPDATE] Thanks Fred, that was PROSTATE not PROSTRATE (that’s what I get with 3 hours of sleep).

From today’s Daily Tar Heel

Prostate cancer will kill 27,000 men in the U.S. this year who might have survived with early treatment.

So UNC urologists will be giving free prostate screenings today as part of Prostate Cancer Awareness Week. The screenings will be from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at UNC Hospitals’ Urology Clinic on the second floor of N.C. Memorial Hospital, [MAP] and no appointment is needed.

“The hardest thing is getting people a setting where they can get checked,” said Eric Wallen, a urologist at UNC Hospitals, which has sponsored free screening events for 14 years. “We want to make it convenient for patients to get checked.”

Because prostate cancer is a slow-spreading disease, if it’s caught at an early stage, there is almost a 100 percent chance that it will be cured in five years.

Like a lot of men, I don’t really relish the old prostate exam, but considering the good prognosis if caught early, it’s something well worth doing.

I’m 45 and have younger friends that have dealt with prostate cancer. One of my dear neighbors is dealing with prostate cancer caught further into the progression. Modern tests can help catch this disease well before it becomes untreatable.

African-American men from eastern North Carolina have the highest rate of prostate cancer incidence in the country, Wallen said.

“The main importance of the week is to get men screened,” said Heather Eichhorn, director of Prostate Cancer Awareness Week.

Although an N.C. law requires insurance companies to provide coverage for prostate screenings, Wallen said free exams are important because uninsured men often are deterred by the costs and hassle of finding a doctor for the test.

Without insurance, the tests cost between $50 and $150, he said.

Last year 460 men received free prostate exams during UNC’s awareness week, and 56 tested abnormal for the prostate-specific antigen blood test. Elevated PSA levels can indicate a problem in the prostate that isn’t necessarily cancer.

The digital rectal exam is a way to verify that a patient has cancer, and of those 56 men, two also tested abnormal for the DRE.

If you’re in the target age group, have been avoiding the old “bend over for me”, please, please, please avail yourself of this free service.

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