Being aware

Members of the Prostate Cancer Canada Network Thunder Bay along with Mayor Keith Hobbs, raise a flag at city hall to mark Prostate Cancer Awareness Month on Wednesday.

Get checked was the big message during the Prostate Cancer Awareness Month at city hall on Wednesday.

“Many men do not know how crucial it is to understand the nature of the disease of prostate cancer, if you diagnose early you can prevent having extensive surgeries and treatments in the future,” Dr. Walid Shahrour, urologist and assistant professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, told The Chronicle-Journal.

Shahrour said several studies came out in North American that suggested there was no need for prostate cancer screening.

“Now we have seen the results,” said Shahrour. “. . . We should be doing prostate cancer screen but with discussion, a discussion between the doctor and the patient.”

Shahrour said what we are seeing in Northern Ontario is many people do not get any screening at all.

“I have seen patients that are 50 years old that are dying from prostate cancer, this is horrible,” said Shahrour.

Recognizing the shortage of urologists, Shahrour and his colleagues have arranged to do a prostate screening clinic and a data program to expedite patients with an issue.

Ed Long, president of Prostate Cancer Canada Network Thunder Bay, knows all too well the issues surrounding prostate cancer.

Long had surgery for prostate cancer 10 years ago and had some side effects, which he says are not unusual and were all dealt with successfully.

“I think that is something that men are afraid of . . . they’re afraid to get tested because of side effects, they hear the horror stories,” he said.

If you have symptoms often it is too late. It needs to be dealt with early, said Long who added, it is important to get tested to get a baseline PSA (prostate-specific antigen) to measure proteins in the blood.

Coming up this month is a talk on Sexual Intimacy After Prostate Cancer with guest speaker/registered nurse Kim Hartsburg-Lang set for Thursday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m., at the 55 Plus Centre on River Street.

Some men hear that once they have prostate cancer that their sex life is done, he said.

“There may be challenges, but they can be dealt with,” added Long. “In fact, intimacy can be better and different.”

The Prostate Cancer Canada Network Thunder Bay hosts a support group on the third Thursday of each month at the 55 Plus Centre at 7 p.m.

The Men Make It Happen Men’s Health and Free PSA Screening event will be hosted Sunday, Oct. 14, from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the 55 Plus Centre. The event will have urologists on site and people are reminded to bring their Ontario Health Card.

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