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Charlotte survivors advocate for regular prostate cancer screenings

As September ends so does prostate cancer awareness month. Charlotte area doctors are hoping men remain vigilant with their screenings.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As October begins, Prostate Cancer Awareness Month ends and Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins. Charlotte area doctors inspired by women who bravely share their stories are hoping men will do the same.

That’s because prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. But around 4 million men in the United States are living with it thanks in part to early detection.

One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. About 4 years ago Thomas Clark became that one.

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“Oh man I was shattered. It was shocking,” Clark told WCNC Charlotte.

As the Deputy Superintendent of Banks for the New York Banking Department, he was required to get regular physicals. He started prostate cancer screenings when he was 32 years old. That routine likely saved his life.

“Early treatment success is much higher,” Clark said. “The thing is it’s got to start from somewhere and that starts with screening.”

That’s because there are rarely early symptoms with prostate cancer.

Dr. Blair Townsend with Urology Specialists of the Carolinas said by the time symptoms show up, the cancer is already advanced.

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“The outcomes of prostate cancer are based on when it’s discovered in the process how advanced the disease process is and then also how aggressive the cancer is,” Townsend said.

There’s nothing to prevent prostate cancer but being aware of heightened risk factors can help.

Black men are two times more likely to be diagnosed, in part because of genetics but also because of existing disparities in health care.

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“Black men on average are less likely to get screened for prostate cancer,” Townsend said. “When prostate cancer is discovered, they’re at a more advanced stage in the disease which makes treatment harder and outcomes worse. They’re more likely to be lost to follow-up.”

Clark continues long-term treatments to live with prostate cancer. He’s hopeful his story will encourage other men to prioritize their health.

“When you do your regular physical, request you be screened for prostate cancer,” he said.

There will be a walk/run in Charlotte on Oct. 29 to raise money for prostate cancer research.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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