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Detection saves lives from prostate cancer

ALBANY, Ga. -- It is often tough to get men to have health checkups. Add the expense and it becomes more difficult.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital took the expense from the equation Saturday with a free blood and digital prostate screening program.

"Half the men we see don't have Medicare or Medicaid or insurance," said Chuck Mendenhall, the medical director of radiation and oncology at the hospital. "If we catch it early, there is a 95 percent cure rate."

The screening included drawing blood for what is called a Prostate-Specific Antigen test. According to the website Mayoclinic.com, high levels, more than a four, could mean prostate cancer. Another test administered Saturday was the digital exam that checks for hard, lumpy or abnormal areas.

Phoebe has been giving this free prostate screening for 10 years, said Patricia Swain, outreach program coordinator. By 11 a.m. more than 200 men in the elegantly decorated unit were ushered through screening by cordial, smiling volunteers.

A few like Gary Brown of Americus got a nudge from wives.

"He got up this morning after staying up late and wasn't really going to come," Tammie Brown said. "I told him, 'you are going.' "