More than 100 get free PSA tests

At the Aug. 6 PSA clinic, from left, Kelly Goulet and Jennifer Van Noort, both of the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, Tom Clapp of the Black Walnut Prostate Cancer Support Group, Charlotte Coons of the Nation Valley ATV Club Ride for Dad event, Ride for Dad national resource director Jim Summers, urologist Dr. Filemon de Jesus, nurse Michelle Renaud and Dave Black of the Black Walnut Prostate Support Group. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

WINCHESTER — More than 100 men took up the offer of free PSA tests at a prostate cancer awareness clinic put on at Winchester District Memorial Hospital, where participating staff members donated their time to make the event a reality.

Instead of the usual $30-to-$50 fee for the important preventative test that isn’t covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, the only thing collected Aug. 6 was a bit of blood at the price of a momentary jab in the arm.

“We’re trying to make guys aware of prostate cancer, to get guys tested at a younger age,” said Doug Nugent of Morrisburg, member of the Black Walnut Prostate Cancer Support Group, a monthly gathering of locals who have sought treatment for the leading form of cancer in men.

Men are advised to get a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test annually after age 40. The results allow the medical community to watch PSA levels for shifts indicating the early stages of prostate cancer.

Dr. Filemon de Jesus, a urologist from Ottawa, is screening the submitted blood samples as part of that day’s effort. Asked why OHIP doesn’t cover the PSA test, the doctor said he didn’t know but vouched for its effectiveness. “It’s the only test” for early detection of the disease, de Jesus pointed out.

“When I was starting my practice, patients would come in with more widespread disease because you would only catch them in the later stages of the cancer,” the doctor said.

Black Walnut member Tom Black emphasized that establishing a baseline PSA test while in good health can be an important part of the “active surveillance” strategy to diagnosing prostate cancer later. “And they can tell from the test if it’s an aggressive or a slow-growing cancer,” he said. “It’s something every man should do on an annual basis. The most important thing is to be monitored.”

Coinciding with Winchester Dairyfest, the second annual clinic also involved support from the Telus Ride For Dad and the Nation Valley ATV Club. Riders and their motorcycles were parked out in front of the hospital, while up the road, Winchester firefighters also promoted the event at their fire station breakfast that morning.

Ride for Dad founder Garry Janz said the awareness-raising event was unique in Canada for offering PSA tests at no charge. “This is the best example across the country,” said Janz. “I think it’s amazing, a community like this, the hospital, the Black Walnut group, Ride for Dad, the firefighters, coming together to pick up the pieces that have fallen by the wayside,” he said. “Can you imagine women having to pay for a mammogram? I’ve never heard one man say … ‘I wish I hadn’t taken that PSA test.’”

According to the Canadian Cancer Society and Cancer Research Society, one in eight men are expected to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, and one in 28 will die from the disease. Prostate cancer has a 90 percent recovery rate when diagnosed early.

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