A hub for Marshall Medical Centers events and information.

Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 05:00 AM

Prostate cancer survivor explains why you need a PSA test

George Thorne can’t think of a better time than Men’s Health Month to encourage men to get the simple test for prostate cancer.

One out of every 6 men will have prostate cancer. Most don’t die from it; they die with it.

In April of 2013 he went to his doctor for his regular physical. A PSA test showed high levels, up from 3 to over 5. A biopsy was next. That test came back positive for cancer.

“Fortunately, we caught mine early,” Thorne, 66, says. “Praise the Lord for that.” 

What is a PSA test?

Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in a man's blood. For this test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis.    

What are normal levels?

A normal PSA level is considered to be 4.0. For men in their 50s or younger, a PSA level should usually be below 2.5. Older men often have slightly higher PSA levels than younger men.

What are prostate cancer treatment options?

Treatment options will vary from patient to patient. Thorne was given the option of surgery – having his prostate removed – or treatments. He chose radiation. He went to the Marshall Cancer Care Center every morning, five days a week for radiation, which took 15 minutes. After 44 treatments, he was done.

“It seems like a long time, but there was nothing to it,” he says. “I got to looking forward to coming here – I still do.”

Thorne would like to ease the minds of men who may be scared to have the PSA test. It’s a simple blood check, he says, and nothing to be afraid of.

“There’s no pain,” he said.

It’s natural to be scared when you hear the word cancer – Thorne knows that all too well.

“But you don’t realize how easy it is on you,” he says. “It’s just a period in your life you have to manage but it doesn’t stop you from enjoying life.”

Thorne is originally from Muscle Shoals. In 1978 he moved to Albertville to coach football at the high school. He also taught history and health, and coached baseball, track and golf before retiring after 37 years.

Thorne’s wife, Ann, is an infection control nurse for Marshall Medical Centers.

Thorne can’t say enough about how nice the doctors and staff at the Cancer Center treated him.

“I felt that by coming here I would get individualized care more than Birmingham,” he says. “These are hometown people. We see them all the time. We see them at church.”

He recalls arriving a few minutes early for treatments to chat with his fellow patients in the waiting room.

“We had a bond,” he says. “We developed a relationship with one another. We became friends.”

And there was one more thing that he likes about the place.

“It helps that Cracker Barrel is next door,” he laughs.

You can reach the Marshall Cancer Care Center here.