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Jim Yarrow understands the critical importance of early detection because, as he says, “Prostate cancer was not on my radar” when it became an enormous factor in his life.

yearend2014_yarrow.jpgJim’s cancer was discovered only because an alert doctor ordered a series of tests that revealed a PSA high enough to send him to a urologist ... and Jim survived.

Knowing what early detection meant to him, Jim found it “disappointing and troublesome” when an important medical agency recommended dropping the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test as a means of screening men for the disease.

“This is a major disconnect and leap backward,” he said of the proposal put forward by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care.

Prostate Cancer Canada President Rocco Rossi was equally direct, calling the CTFPHC proposal “an injustice to men ...

“Early detection of prostate cancer saves lives. That’s especially important for a disease that often has no symptoms until it has advanced to a stage when there are fewer treatment options with less positive outcomes.”

Jim says, “I can’t imagine where I would be without PSA testing”; and he’s right.

Who can say if Jim would still be with us if a proposal like the CTFPHC’s had discouraged the PSA his general practitioner ordered? After all, as Jim points out, “I really didn’t have any specific or significant symptoms.”

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What he did have – the single factor working in his favour – was a proactive general practitioner.

Jim’s urologist found even higher PSA results just three weeks after that first PSA screen. A biopsy confirmed cancer on both sides of the gland and already aggressive.

Things went okay for a while after surgery; but by year three Jim was referred to The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, which diagnosed biochemical failure and advanced prostate cancer.

That’s the bad news, but there’s good news. Early detection caught Jim’s cancer in 2001, and he’s still with us 14 years later.

Jim remains in treatment, but it doesn’t sound so terrible – an injection every three months. And again, he’s still with us 14 years after a PSA that might not have been done if someone like the CTFPHC had its way.

Early detection saves lives. One of those lives belongs to Jim Yarrow. And Jim’s is a good life, very much worth saving.


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