Dr. Kris Gaston

“Prostate cancer affects the entire family,” shares Dr. Kris Gaston, a urologist at McKay Urology at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., where he regularly treats men with prostate cancer. “Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed and the second most common cancer killer of men in America.”

The statistics are even scarier. “African American men have a higher incidence rate of prostate cancer than any other group worldwide and they are primarily diagnosed when their cancer is already late stage. They have twice the likelihood of being diagnosed with and dying from prostate cancer. In the later stages of prostate cancer, it spreads to the bones primarily. Ninety percent of men who have advanced prostate cancer [have it] in the bones,” he reveals. “My grandfather died of prostate cancer and being an African American male makes this [a] subject of interest.”

Here, Dr. Gaston, who’s authored several publications and lectured on the topic and is highly regarded for his expertise in clinical care, research, surgery and rehabilitation for the treatment of prostate cancer — talks early detection, bone health and symptoms of prostate cancer. –yvette caslin

How do you explain the disparities?

There are a multitude of factors: dietary, genetic and a huge amount of research have been on access to care. If you don’t have a primary doctor, you’re not getting screened. That is one of the main issues is getting people access so they can be screened.

Are there any symptoms?

It’s a silent killer, and the first sign could be a fracture from a tumor spreading from the prostate to the bone. Once it spreads to the bone, it’s already in [the] advanced stage. We are talking about getting men out, making a relationship with a primary doctor so they can be screened, [diagnosed] early and cured.

When should men start screening?

It is recommended that African American men start screening at the age of 40. Women play a huge role in men’s lives by helping them to participate in preventive care and [encouraging them to go] to the doctor to get screened. Cancer is extremely curable if detected in early stages.

What type of treatment should they seek when diagnosed with prostate cancer?

There are a number of treatment options for prostate cancer in all stages. The primary thing is getting them to a doctor so that we can find this cancer to treat it.

What is the purpose of the Bone Health in Focus program?

Men can suffer fractures and debilitating complications that can result in them having shorter life spans and being in nursing homes. We are really trying to spread the message about early screening and detection so men can seek treatment.

Any last words?

Breast cancer is an analogous cancer. Women are very proud breast cancer survivors. … Men tend to shy away from it and keep it a secret. It’s nothing to shy away from and men can get treated, be cured and still have the same sexual and urinary quality of life … if we find this cancer early enough.

For more information, please visit www.bonehealthinfocus.com.