Cancer Coalition

PSA: Know Your Number

June 21, 2021

As a firefighter, you wear required proper protective equipment such as a helmet, boots, and turnout gear. This gear can save your life – but it also gets covered in soot, carbon, and other toxic residue. Why is dirty turnout gear hazardous to firefighters? One word – cancer.PSA Test

Except for skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common among men. Yes, all men are at risk for this type of slow-growing cancer and one in nine men will receive the diagnosis. When studying types of cancer in firefighters, there is an alarming 20 percent additional increased risk for prostate cancer.

However if you are prepared with knowledge, obtain annual screenings, and are in consultation with your health care provider, the outcome can be promising.

For some types of cancer, screenings can help find cancers at an early stage, when they are likely to be easier to treat. If prostate cancer is found as a result of screening, it will probably be at an earlier, more treatable stage than if no screening were done.

The older a man is the greater the chance of getting prostate cancer. African-Americans (one in seven), or those with a family history, are at an increased risk. While the general guidelines recommend getting a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening starting at age 55, you may need this screening between the ages of 40 and 54 if you have more than one first-degree relative (father, son, or brother) who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

How is one screened for this type of cancer? There is a simple blood test, taken from the arm, which will test the PSA levels in a man’s blood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, as a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. Any PSA number lower than 4 ng/ml is generally considered normal. Any number between 4.0 to 10.0 ng/ml is suspicious and requires follow-up. As a result of a higher number, your doctor may recommend a biopsy during which a small amount of tissue is removed from the prostate and examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells.

If you are wondering if you should get tested for prostate cancer, this CDC video will help you understand the prostate cancer screening options:

Give yourself a life-saving advantage by taking part in annual screenings and physicals. Take responsibility for your health and know your PSA number.

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