Getting men to see their doctor is only half the battle. To win the war, men must also communicate and cope with their doctor’s findings, whether they are favorable or not. Of course, this is easier said than done. In a culture that conditions men to take pain and “man up” it can be difficult to get these same strong men to speak up about their health. Mark Fleming, M.D. witnessed this firsthand in his own family with his father. “He had actually been diagnosed for many years [before I found out],” shared Dr. Fleming of Virginia Oncology Associates in a recent interview with BlackDoctor.org.
“I think what’s very common with prostate cancer is how men do not share their diagnosis or do not seek treatment because of the potential implications on their quote “nature”. So, I think my father was a classic example of that, in that I was not aware and then he had pretty advanced disease when I was made aware of his diagnosis.”
Prostate cancer is the leading cancer diagnosed among men in the United States and Black men in America continue to have the highest incidence rate of prostate cancer in the world. According to Harvard Medical School, men with a first-degree relative (brother or father) with prostate cancer, as is Dr. Fleming’s history, are more than two-and-a-half times as likely to develop the disease as a man with no affected family members. Black men also lead in mortality statistics, which some experts attribute to late detection.
It could be the shock of receiving a cancer diagnosis or lack of education about what the diagnosis means for their future, but many men are left feeling like, “Now what?”
Dr. Fleming explains that once a patient is diagnosed with prostate cancer, several factors such as the patient’s age, lifestyle and other co-morbidity factors (heart disease, diabetes, etc.) must be taken into consideration. “You have a wide array of options and I usually will tell people there is no “best” treatment strategy for prostate cancer. It’s the best treatment strategy for YOU.”
The following are options and things to consider that your physician or urologist may share with you.