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Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men (skin cancer is first), affecting more than 3 million men every year. In fact, 1 in 9 men in the US will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.

Dr. William Spencer is a urologist at Bronson Urology Specialists in Battle Creek. He is a Michigan medical school graduate and completed his medical fellowship at the National Cancer Institute.   Dr. Spencer recently moved to Battle Creek after a 28 year career at Detroit's Beaumont Hospital.    He was a recent guest on the WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins. 

 About 180,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer annually in the U.S., and about 30,000 die of the disease. But that mortality number is less than half of what it was 25 years ago.   

Dr. Spencer says prostate cancer is generally a slow progressing cancer, so early detection means that prostate cancer can be highly treatable. 

He says that typically, prostate cancer screening should begin when a man is in his 40s or 50s. But, speak with your doctor about health risks that may mean you should be screened earlier.

Dr. Spencer says there are certain health risks that may indicate an early screening.   If you have a family history of prostate or other cancers, that's important. Also, men with African ancestry or men from northern latitudes have been shown to have a higher risk. Sometimes a family history of other cancers, such as breast, ovarian or pancreatic and put someone in a high-risk group.  

"One of the nice advances that we've really focused on about the last 8 years is that there are about a third of men diagnosed who don't have to be treated up front, " says Dr. Spencer.  "They enter active surveillance, and we follow them several times a year and maybe do another biopsy a year later or MRI.  That group  may be able to differ treatment for years, as long as they're under surveillance."

There are two main types of tests for prostate cancer.  They are the PSA test, which is a simple blood test that measures levels of a specific antigen in the blood.  There is also a physical rectal exam that may be used to check on the size and shape of the prostate.  Doctor Spencer says the combination of tests is very powerful, and the two need to be done together.

As part of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, the Bronson Battle Creek Cancer Care Center at 300 North Avenue is offering free prostate cancer exams on Tuesday, September 24 from 5 to 7 pm. Men will receive an exam and complete a blood test. There will also be information about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.

The screenings are FREE, but do require early registration.

You can call 269-341-7723 or just visit bronsonhealth.com.  You'll find it under the classes and events section. Just search prostate.