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Dr. Drew Encourages Men to Get Their PSA Tests

Dr. Drew Pinsky
Dr. Drew Pinsky

Dr. Drew Pinsky, or simply Dr. Drew, as he is known, is a television and radio personality, practicing physician, and on the Board of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. He’s also a prostate cancer survivor.

Mediaplanet: When you were diagnosed with prostate cancer, what went through your mind?

Dr. Drew: I was angry, because I was so young and busy with my life. I knew I would get prostate cancer. My dad and uncle both had it, but I thought I would get it in my 70s, not when I was 55.

What symptoms did you have?

I had no symptoms. That’s the thing with prostate cancer, you usually don’t have symptoms until it has progressed, and then it’s harder to treat. That’s why the PSA test is so important.

What is a PSA test, and who should get one?

It’s a blood test that is used to screen for prostate cancer. My advice is that men over 50 years of age should have a PSA test once a year. If you have a first degree relative that has had prostate cancer, then screening should begin in your 40s.

Why do men put off getting a PSA test?

We avoid doctors like we avoid asking for directions. Men don’t want doctors monkeying around down there. They don’t want their performance down there affected. It freaks us out a little. I’m no better than anyone else. It was my wife who made an appointment for me to see the doctor.

How important is early intervention when it comes to prostate cancer?

Early intervention is important, because the further along the cancer is, the worse the prognosis and more difficult it is to treat.

What was the treatment like for your cancer?

Because it was initially a low-grade tumour, my doctor suggested we just monitor it, but when the volume of the tumour changed, that’s when I had surgery to remove it. Despite it being a relatively routine procedure, there was still a possibility there could be a problem whenever you’re dealing with cancer. When my doctor said he’s performed 11,000 of the surgeries with no complications, I said, let’s go.

If surgery is necessary, will patients be able to lead a “normal” life?

This is the question every man asks. They want to know if there will be any effect in performance and feeling. I can tell you there is no negative impact.

What advice do you have for men who may put off seeing their doctor?

Don’t be an idiot like me. I understand why you would be reluctant to see your doctor, but waiting until it goes away is not a good strategy.

What is your involvement with the Prostate Cancer Foundation?

I am on the Foundation Board, and we fund the most creative research. If a scientist is doing some interesting research, we let them do it. They’re smart, they have good ideas, and it’s yielded great breakthroughs. We are on the verge of being able to do some amazing things without having to poison people, which is what chemotherapy and radiation does.

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