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While the risk of prostate cancer increases for all men as they age, the rate differs by race. African American men in San Mateo County had almost twice the rate of prostate cancer as that of Asian or Hispanic males, and 1.5 times that of white males from 1995 - 1999, according to the San Mateo County Department of Public Health.

San Mateo resident Lovell McKinney Sr., 73, was among those diagnosed. Today he is cancer-free thanks to a free Prostate Cancer Awareness Sunday screening hosted by Mills-Peninsula's African American Community Health Advisory Committee in September 1997.

Then, he thought he was healthy because he felt good. He bowled twice a week and attended church regularly.

Prostate cancer produces a specific toxin or antigen that is detected through routine lab tests. Two weeks after his screening, McKinney was notified his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) was high. "It woke me up," he said.

A biopsy later revealed a malignant prostate gland. Fortunately, the cancer had not spread. "Of the men diagnosed, 90 percent have localized cancer," James L. Hutchinson, M.D., his primary care doctor, said. "Catching it early increases the chance for survival."

McKinney had three options: surgery, chemotherapy or radioactive seed implantation. He chose surgery, which meant the removal of his prostate gland. "What's good about surgery is that it offers the fastest and most complete chance for a cure," Dr. Hutchinson said.

McKinney's PSA count has remained at or near zero, and he sees his doctor every four to six months. "I think I'm doing well for my age," he said. "Good health is something you can't take for granted. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone."

The 6th annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Sunday will be held Sept. 8 at Hendrickson Auditorium, Mills Health Center, 100 South San Mateo Drive, San Mateo. Free screenings will be held 1 - 2:15 p.m. A one-hour program will begin at 2:15 p.m. Grammy winners Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. will share their personal experience with the disease and answer questions. To register, call (650) 696-5600.

"A free check up saved my life. It can save yours, too. Do it," McKinney said.



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