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Screening can prevent prostate cancer deaths
Free screenings set in metro area until Jan. 25
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As part of the Metropolitan Atlanta Prostate Proactivity Campaign, men in Newton County were treated to free prostate screenings Thursday.

A mobile unit sponsored by RadioTherapy Clinics of Georgia administered the screenings from the parking lot of the Kroger on Salem Road. RadioTherapy has sponsored the free screenings at sites across Atlanta this week.

Approximately 125 men received free screenings in Covington yesterday.

There are three free screening dates remaining. Today the mobile unit will be administering the screenings at the Kroger on Moreland Avenue in Atlanta. On Saturday the mobile unit will be at the Mall of Georgia in Buford and on Sunday the screenings will be held at the Town Center Mall in Kennesaw.

According to the American Cancer Society, other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common occurring cancer in American men. It is estimated that in 2008 alone, there were 186,320 new diagnoses of prostate cancer in the country.

While 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, only 1 man in 35 will die of it, thanks to successful treatment therapies.

"It’s pretty significant," said Debbie Wright, a registered nurse and the community outreach coordinator for RadioTherapy. "As the population ages, it gets more common."

It is recommended for all black men and all men with a history of prostate cancer in their family to be tested annually starting at the age of 40. For all other men, annual testing is recommended starting at the age of 50.

Prostate screenings include a blood test and a digital rectal exam, where a doctor will insert a gloved finger into the rectum to feel for any physical abnormalities.

"This is what makes most men not want to do the test because they feel it’s invasive," Wright said.

However, early and consistent testing is very important she said, adding "Prostate cancer is one of if not the most curable cancer. You can actually cure it if caught early and that’s why consistent testing is so important."

Congressman Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), a prostate cancer survivor himself, is a strong supporter of prostate cancer testing and has written a bill that would provide more funding for prostate screenings.

"I do firmly believe in early detection," Marshall said.

The bill, which is currently still in committee, would amend the Public Health Service Act and the Social Security Act to provide for a screening and treatment program for prostate cancer in the same manner as is currently provided for breast and cervical cancer.

"As a result of the federal involvement of tackling breast cancer in the ‘80s, breast cancer cases have been reduced dramatically," Marshall said, adding "I’ve had lots of co-sponsors. Hopefully we’re going to see an opportunity this year to see the thing passed or added to a larger bill so that an effective program is adopted."