Unbelievably, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime – and one in 36 will die from it. Prostate cancer is second only to skin cancer as the most common cancer in American men and second only to lung cancer as the leading cancer-based cause of death in American men. The American Cancer Society estimates that in the U.S. during 2014, about 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed, and 29,480 men will die from it.
But there's still good news. If prostate cancer is caught early, the 5-year survival rate is nearly 100%. The numbers say it all: Get tested! Prostate cancer is rare before age 40, so if you are 40 or older, the first step is a free, simple PSA screening that only requires a blood sample. "PSA" stands for prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced by prostate cells. The PSA test is done to help diagnose and follow prostate cancer in men. No certain PSA level is called normal or abnormal, and an elevated level does not mean you have prostate cancer – only a biopsy can diagnose cancer. Always discuss PSA test results with your doctor.
In 2004, Rockford-based Nisus Corporation, a manufacturer of products for the professional pest management industry, teamed up with area hospitals and MEDIC Regional Blood Center to create Eddie Check, an annual event that adds free PSA screening for prostate cancer to blood drives. It was a simple strategy using MEDIC's already existing resources to make it fast and easy for men to get a blood sample drawn for the screening. Nisus has a personal stake in the fight; marketing vice president Jim Gorman is a prostate cancer survivor, while company president Kevin L. Kirkland lost his father, Eddie Kirkland, to the disease. In fact, "Eddie Check" is named for Eddie Kirkland.