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A new report from the Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology suggests new cancer cases across a range of cohorts are way down. Melanoma, prostate cancer and breast cancer presented the largest decreases in patients identified, roughly -52%, -49% and -48%, respectively, in the months after covid-19's restrictions compared with the same time last year.

Since the onset of covid-19, restrictions and the anxiety over its pathology, both patients and some medical providers have postponed elective screenings and procedures. Whether such postponements were prudent or not, this study concludes the steep decline in cancer screenings "suggests the possibility of a future increase in patients with later-stage cancer being seen initially."

As September marks National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, the Arkansas Urology Foundation, along with my fellow urologists and I want to highlight the need to get back to the aggressive pace of medical screenings we were on at the start of the year. We are proud to once again raise awareness with partners across the state, including the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Raising expectations around cancer screening among Arkansas men is particularly dear to my practice. Prostate cancer is the single most common cancer diagnosis for men, and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men who don't smoke. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent National Health Interview Survey, men are far more likely than women to go two years or longer without seeing a physician or other health care professional.

We can fix this! Prostate cancer can be fast-growing and deadly, or, far more often, slow-growing and managed with noninvasive treatments. In either case, early detection makes all the difference. Prostate screenings have proven successful for reaching men who would not be tested, even leading them to be more proactive about other checkups across a range of health areas.

This year, Arkansas Urology will host its 16th Annual Kickoff to Men's Health. Events will take place all across the state, including Bentonville. The events will offer free men's health screenings, elective labs and prostate exams. The Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation this month is highlighting similar screening events around the state -- Fort Smith, Jonesboro and De Queen -- along with a virtual support group meeting Sept. 15. Beyond September, the Arkansas Urology Foundation will sponsor free health screenings to men across the state, raising funds and heightening awareness. (The screenings will provide baselines on medical conditions from diabetes to heart disease, not only urological conditions.)

According to the American Cancer Society, about one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. If you have a family history, now is the time to get checked. Prostate cancer is more likely to develop in older men and in African-American men. About six cases in 10 are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, and it is rare in men under 40. The average age at diagnosis is about 66.

This Prostate Cancer Awareness month, don't sit tight. In the fight against cancer, early detection is our strongest weapon. Men who share their symptoms with a specialist early always fare better.

Dr. Matthew Kincade practices general urology in Arkansas Urology’s Bentonville office. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and obtained his doctor of medicine degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

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