COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — The death of former Ohio State Buckeye Dimitrious Stanley from prostate cancer is prompting calls for men to consider being tested for it. There is a simple blood test men can get, and one other uncomfortable test that men also should consider.
By the time Stanley was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019, he'd already been suffering from symptoms, including trouble urinating. It took his wife Jessica to finally convince him to get to the doctor, where he told ABC 6 reporter Maria Durant he was given the devastating news.
"I cried a little bit and, of course, you think about your family and you think about my baby. And everything goes through your mind
Dr. John Burgers treated Stanley after he was diagnosed, and his cancer progressed to Stage 4. Burgers is a renowned urologist and robotic surgeon. who surgically removed Stanley's prostate. He also operated on me in 2016, following my prostate cancer diagnosis. In my case, the diagnosis came after yearly prostate cancer blood screening tests. The Prostate-Specific Antigen test looks for high levels of a protein made by the prostate.
"We usually recommend at age 50 that you start getting your PSA regularly," Burgers said. "The idea is that you are getting PSA's checked for a period of at least 10 years; you hope before you develop cancer. That way you have a baseline so when it changes, you know immediately it's time to investigate that."
There was a second kind of test Stanley didn't have that Burgers said might have caught the cancer earlier.
"My concern is if somebody had, you know, done a rectal exam on him earlier, it's very possible that they would have detected something and would have triggered an evaluation," Burgers said.
Burgers admits many men are reluctant to undergo a rectal exam because it involves a physician inserting a finger into the rectum to feel the prostate for abnormalities.
Now as far as the digital rectal exam is, I mean nobody likes that. But what I try to explain to my patients is it's very important to realize that 20 percent of these cancers can be found by feeling the prostate. More than 80 percent of them obviously are found with the PSA. But if we want to be absolutely certain that we find as many as we possibly can, we do the two tests together.
After the diagnosis, Stanley devoted his life to talking about prostate cancer and encouraging men to get checked.
"He formed the Brave Men, Inc., where he went out, and that really helped and supported people," Burgers said. "And he was on the radio. I don't know how many patients told me that they saw him and heard him and got them encouraged to come in, so he really did a magnificent job. He was a wonderful guy that just championed prostate cancer."
Men with a family history of prostate cancer, and African-American men are at a higher risk of developing the disease. The most common symptoms are urination problems, an enlarged prostate, or back and pelvic pain.