You could ask most men how many passing yards Tim Tebow ran during his career in the NFL or how many points Wayne Gretzky scored during his final year with the Edmonton Oilers and they would be able to rattle off statistics until the cows come home.
Now ask most men if they have prostate cancer. You might get silence and a dumbfounded look.
At a prostate cancer awareness promotion held at the Grand International Inn on Tuesday evening, Dr. Ryan Hedgepeth, a urologist and urologic oncologist with Trinity Health, stated that most men know more about their favorite NFL teams than they do about their health.
The NFL, however, is doing its part to make sure that men know more about their prostate-specific antigen (PSA), cholesterol and blood pressure. They partnered with the American Urological Association (AUA) to create Know Your Stats, a public health campaign to educate men about prostate cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed cancers and affects one in six men in the United States.
Jan Stenerud, a member of the NFL Hall of Fame and a former Minnesota Viking, hosted "Tailgating With Jan," as part of Know Your Stats. Stenerud, an affable Norwegian who began his career with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1967, got involved in Know Your Stats after his close friend, Mike Haynes, a fellow Hall of Famer, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Haynes is the figurehead for the promotion, Hedgpeth added.
"When Mike told us about his situation and being diagnosed with prostate cancer in its early stages, we all knew it was a 'no brainer' to be screened on an annual basis because early detection is critical to survival," Stenerud said in a press release last week.
Hedgepeth noted that the earlier the diagnosis, the earlier the treatment can be implemented.
For 25 years, PSA blood tests have been used as a screening mechanism for prostate cancer. It also detects cancer earlier than a digital rectal exam, but the AUA states that combining these tests improves the overall rate of prostate cancer detection.
According to Hedgepeth, 225,000 or more men are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually and almost 30,000 men died from the disease every year, causing it to be the third leading cause of death.
The cause is unknown, but there are a variety of factors, such as genetics and lifestyle. Genetics can play a big part, especially if it is known that there is a family history of prostate cancer. If a man's father or brother suffered from prostate cancer, the chances that the man has it are doubled; if two "first degree relatives" a father and a brother or two have or had prostate cancer, the risk is increased by five. Studies have also shown that if a man's twin has or had prostate cancer, the chance that the other twin has it is 40 percent, Hedgepeth said.
At a press conference held on Tuesday morning, Stenerud said that it is unbelieveable that people would not go out and get such a screening done, especially when it is known to save lives.
"Men tend to be in denial about their health care status," Hedgepeth said, noting that men sometimes tend to seek medical help "when something is falling off."
Hedgepeth recommends that prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screenings for the "average American man" should begin at age 50 and continue once a year until they are 75 years old. Men who have a family history of prostate cancer should start earlier, at age 40, and continue in the same fashion until they are 75. He said he believes the guidelines will be modified over the next year.
It is important for men, as they age, to get other health screenings as well, Hedgepeth noted. "Every man can benefit from PSA screenings," adding that "having a doctor listen to your heart once a year" can also be beneficial.