.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

In check

-A A +A
By Stephen Lega

May 18 is a day that Junie Mattingly and his wife, Carolyn, won't forget any time soon. That was the day that they found out Mattingly had prostate cancer.

"It was a scary thing when we heard it was cancer," Carolyn said.

Mattingly, 78, of Loretto seemed to take the news in stride. Two of his brothers had the disease previously, so he knew that it ran in his family. He'd even had a biopsy one other time, but that test came back negative for cancer.

"Of course, you'd rather not have it, but you just kind of accept it, I guess," Mattingly said. "I wasn't surprised."

Mattingly was in the hospital for four days after his diagnosis was confirmed, but when he got out May 28, he knew his preparation for treatments was just beginning.

"The worst part was when he came home with a catheter," Carolyn said. "I had never done that."

Keeping the catheter clean was necessary to avoid an infection. According to Mattingly, his wife was very helpful at that time, both with the catheter and in making sure he took his medications at the right times.

"She was a pretty good nurse," Mattingly said.

As Mattingly already knew from his own family history, he wasn't the first person to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

He won't be the last either.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 217,730 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year, and an estimated 32,050 men will die from the disease.

The prostate is a gland located in front of the rectum and below a man's bladder. It is a part of the reproductive system and it makes part of a man's seminal fluid, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Approximately one in every six men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. About one in 36 will die from the disease, making it the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men, behind lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Thankfully for Mattingly and his family, his cancer was treatable.

Mattingly said Dr. Salem George noticed during a regular check-up that Mattingly's prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were high. A biopsy, which Mattingly described as painful, followed to confirm the cause of Mattingly's elevated PSA levels.

"I wouldn't want to go through the biopsy without a reason," Mattingly said.

Once Mattingly's cancer had been confirmed, he had to consider his treatment options.

"I chose the radiation," he said.

Before his treatments started, Mattingly underwent a CAT scan to identify where the localized radiation should be administered. The hospital staff even gave him a tattoo, a little star, so they could more easily line up the machine that administers the radiation.

Mattingly laughed about his skin art.

"It's the first and last I hope," he said.

He went for his first treatment July 15 at Baptist East. He's gone back five days a weeks since then.

"We have a daughter who works up there," Mattingly said. "She can kind of watch over me."

He added that the treatment only takes about 10-15 minutes each day. The only time involved is traveling there and back each day.

While Mattingly elected to undergo radiation, there are a variety of options for treating and dealing with prostate cancer. One option is "watchful waiting." According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer grows very slowly for some men, so slowly in fact, that some men never require treatment. If a doctor finds that a patient's cancer is growing more quickly, they can consider a more active treatment option.

Those options include radiation therapy, surgery, cryosurgery (in which localized prostate cancer is frozen), hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

Mattingly has fewer than eight treatments remaining, and he said the signs are good that his cancer is in remission. He also encouraged men to undergo prostate checks, especially after they reach middle age.

"Everybody probably should have their family doctor check for it," he said.

He and his wife were in good spirits Friday afternoon as they discussed his condition and their experience the last few months. In addition to learning about his wife's nursing skills, they have also learned how supportive their community can be.

"You don't think that much about people sending cards until you start getting them," Mattingly said.

As another example of that support, they pointed out two prayer blankets they received. One from the Sew-cialize Club at the St. Francis Church in Raywick and one from St. Vincent de Paul in New Hope.

"People are really concerned around here," Carolyn said.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

An estimated one in every six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, and approximately one in 36 men will die from the disease.

According to the National Cancer Institute, risk factors for prostate cancer include age (men over 65), family history and race. Men of all races can contract prostate cancer, but African-American men have a higher rate of the disease than white and Hispanic men. Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander males have a slightly lower rate of the disease.

The prostate is a gland located in front of the rectum and below the bladder, and it produces part of seminal fluid.

When it grows larger than it's usual walnut size, it can create problems, such as cutting off and preventing the flow of urine through the urethra, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Difficultly passing urine can also be a symptom of prostate cancer. Besides a variety of urination-related problems - including weak flow, starting and stopping often and a need to urinate frequently - other symptoms of prostate cancer include difficultly having an erection and frequent pain in the lower back, hips and upper thighs.

Men should discuss prostate cancer screenings developing with their doctors around age 50, provided they are of average risk of developing the disease and they are expected to live at least 10 more years, according to the American Cancer Society. Men who are at high risk should discuss starting screenings at age 45.

To detect prostate cancer, doctors may conduct a digital exam, which involves the insertion of a lubricated and gloved finger into the rectum to seek lumps or hard areas. Also, a blood test could indicate high PSA levels, which can be a symptom of BPH (an inflamed prostate) or prostate cancer.

While those tests can detect if there is a potential problem, a transrectal sonogram or transrectal biopsy may be necessary to confirm if a man has prostate cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, treatment options for prostate cancer include radiation therapy, surgery, cryosurgery (in which localized prostate cancer is frozen), hormone therapy and chemotherapy. In some cases, a doctor and a patient may take a more passive approach, sometimes referred to as "watchful waiting." Prostate cancer grows very slowly for some men, so slowly in fact, that some men never require treatment. If a doctor finds that a patient's cancer is growing more quickly, they can consider a more active treatment option.

For more information about prostate cancer visit, the www.cancer.org or www.cancer.gov.