When Kyle Mace spoke at his father’s public memorial service in November, he revealed something very few people already knew: his father had bravely fought prostate cancer for the past five years.
And with this revelation came a call to action of sorts. In front of a crowd of people and rolling television cameras, Mace urged people to be proactive for their own health.
“If you have not gotten checked yet — anybody in this room, anybody watching at home, please go to a doctor and get checked because we would rather hear that you are healthy than have to go through what my father went through,” Mace said.
While sharing his memories of his father, Mace also embarked on a mission.
“I’ve had a couple of people say, ‘I’m going to get checked because of this now,” Mace said while sitting down recently with ABC27 News. “And I was like, ‘OK. Mission accomplished already.”
The test for prostate cancer is twofold. It involves a blood test, called a PSA, and a rectal exam.
“It’s not something that’s pleasant, but it’s something that lasts a few minutes or seconds, but the value is incredible,” said Dr. R. Scott Owens, of Urology of Central Pennsylvania.
Owens said over the past decade, he’s seen a noticeable trend that men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer at an earlier age than ever before. He said it’s not uncommon for men in their 50’s or even their 40’s to receive the diagnosis.
“We see many men come into our office who never had a PSA,” Owens said. “Men at the age of 55, 60, 65 who actually have cancer spread throughout their body.”
Ideally, Owens said all men should get a baseline PSA and exam by the age of 45. African American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer should absolutely get the test by 45, he said.
But the age recommendation for the test can vary depending on the source.
The American Cancer Society, for example, recommends men who are not in a high-risk category have a discussion with their physician around the age of 50. You can find more on their recommendations by clicking here.
There is a real concern that with the test could come false positives and unnecessary procedures and anxiety.
Owens said because of that, they are now using a urine test in place of a biopsy in certain situations. He also said they are not necessarily choosing to treat all cases of prostate cancer. Instead, they’re choosing to actively watch some patients to make sure their cancer does not spread.
Urology of Central Pennsylvania offers free prostate cancer screenings for men age 40 and older, regardless of insurance. For information on how to obtain that testing, click here.
As it stands now, Owens said the only available test to detect prostate cancer early is the PSA blood test. Without the test, Owens said men will likely never know they are sick.
“Prostate cancer, when it is localized, when it is contained, produces no symptoms,” Owens said. “None.”
Jim Williams knows that firsthand. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer 27 years ago at a time when he “never felt better” in his life.
Williams now works tirelessly with the Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Coalition. He preaches early prevention but admits men rarely want to listen.
“Men will tell me, ‘Oh, I’m not going to let anybody stick a finger up my rectum,” Williams said. “And then five years later, I’m watching them die of this disease.”
Prostate cancer is something men simply don’t talk about it, Williams said. That’s why he’s especially grateful that Kyle Mace did.
“We call Kyle a great American because with his story about his father, he will probably save some lives,” Williams said.
Gregg Mace chose to fight his battle with prostate cancer with fierce privacy. Despite that, Kyle Mace has chosen to take his mission public.
“It’s something I feel like is a cancer that is not talked about because there’s a stigma around it that makes men look weak — and you’re not,” Mace said.
With this message, Mace believes his father has a final story to tell.
“I don’t think I want it to define his legacy, but I think I want it to be another part of it,” Mace said.
Prostate cancer is the second most deadly cancer in men, but when it is detected early it has a nearly 100 percent survival rate, according to the Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Coalition.
The organization says one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. One in 10 men diagnosed will be younger than 55 years old. One in 30 men will die from prostate cancer.
For more information about the Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Coalition, click here.