A man who helped fundraise for the free prostate cancer test ended up using it to save his own life, and is once again urging other men to get tested early.
The Island Prostate Centre hosts its annual Country Grocer Men’s Health Day, Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Tillicum shopping centre.
Svein Haugen, a local accountant and real estate agent, was ‘coaxed into’ getting the free prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test at the Men’s Health Day by a few friends in 2016. Haugen, now 64, had already been part of the annual Westcoast Ride to Live motorcycle ride that raises funds and awareness for the Island Prostate Centre. But he hadn’t recently had his own PSA levels checked.
Luckily he did. Last tested in his mid-40s, this time his PSA levels were flagged and sent to his family doctor. In two follow up tests his PSA decreased but in his third follow up his PSA level spiked and cancer was found.
“Having done the Ride to Live, and having been previously tested (negatively), never was I thinking I’d end up needing it,” Haugen said.
In 2018 he underwent treatment, including surgery, and is now without prostate cancer, though he is regularly monitored.
“If I didn’t go I wouldn’t have been diagnosed, and it would have been way more severe,” Haugen said.
If you do meet the threshold for PSA levels the results are either shared with your family doctor or sent to a doctor that will work with you. PSA testing is not funded in B.C. and costs $30 on average.
“We are partnering with Country Grocer and LifeLabs in order to provide free PSA testing to our community,” said Leanne Kopp, executive director of the Island Prosate Centre.
“It is often neglected by men,” Kopp added. “Thanks to a great partnership it will ensure anyone who wants the test, will have access to it.”
It makes life a lot easier, Haugen said.
“Because I caught it early, I only have to have a PSA test from now on,” Haugen said. “It’s easier for me, and it’s cheaper on our health care system.
“I share my story so I can help others to get it early, so it’s not as big of a deal.”
In 2018, Men’s Health Day tested 693 men, with 45 of these tests showing higher risk for prostate cancer. Since the inception of the event 18 years ago it’s done more than 11,400 PSA tests and identified 400 men with out of range PSA results.
“I love to say that our Country Grocer Men’s Health Day is saving lives in our community,” Kopp said.
This free event screening for prostate cancer is a simple blood test that measures the marker for this disease where symptoms are not always present.
It is recommended that men begin PSA testing at 50 years of age, or earlier if there is a family history of the disease.