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Amid COVID Pandemic, Fewer Arkansas Men Getting Prostate Screenings

Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in Arkansas. Data shows fewer men are getting regular prostate screenings, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s a concern for health officials because if detected early, prostate cancer is survivable.

Two events Tuesday will stress the importance of screenings. Gov. Asa Hutchinson will speak at an online event beginning at 10 a.m. with the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation. Foundation representatives and prostate cancer survivors will discuss the prevalence of the disease in Arkansas.

At 11 a.m., Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. will join representatives from the Arkansas Urology Foundation to talk about the importance of screenings. That event will take place at the Robinson Center Still Ballroom on 426 W. Markham Street.

Chris Collier, executive director of Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation, spoke with KUAR News about the importance of men getting screened.

MICHAEL HIBBLEN: It sounds like men aren't comfortable going in for screenings while infections continue spreading around the state. First, tell me what you’re hearing from doctors about this.

CHRIS COLLIER: Sure, Michael. The reality is that as a general rule, men typically are not a big fan of going to the doctor for screenings. That probably does not surprise you. It’s compounded this year by the COVID pandemic, as more and more men have opted not to go and see their regular physicians. We are trying to make sure particularly with September being Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, that we are doing all we can to raise awareness for the need for men to be screened but also to help educate men to the extent that the screening is simply a blood draw. It's the same as going in for a regular physical and having a vial of blood drawn. They run the analytics on it to be able to help determine what your baseline is and if you are indeed at risk of prostate cancer.

HIBBLEN: One of every nine men in Arkansas will face a diagnosis of prostate cancer sometime in their lives...

COLLIER: Yes, in fact it is unfortunately a disease that, according to the American Cancer Society, there will be not quite 2000 men diagnosed anew this year, in Arkansas alone.

HIBBLEN: Well two events are scheduled Tuesday to raise awareness about this. With the start of the month you'll be joining Gov. Asa Hutchinson for an online event at 10 o’clock in the morning. The Arkansas Municipal League, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. will be taking part in a separate event with Arkansas Urology at 11. What’s the message that you hope to get across?

COLLIER: Well again, the central message we went to deliver is that you simply can't ignore your health, even during a pandemic. You need to be in dialogue with your doctor about potential screening. If you don't have a regular or family physician, we certainly want to encourage you to attend a screening event, whether it be put on by us or someone else to be able to ascertain what that baseline is, what we call our PSA number, which is the determinant of whether you may have or be prone to getting prostate cancer.

HIBBLEN: You're also announcing a series of free screening events around the state, how can people learn more?

COLLIER: Those are listed on our social media pages as well as on our website, and certainly they are provided free of charge. We are very quick to get results back to the men who attend those screenings. If indeed they have a suspect or elevated reading, we follow up with not just a letter, but phone calls to help walk them through what might be the next steps for them as they deal with this issue.