Dr. Jonathan Bernie's laid-back demeanor would put even the most nervous patient at ease. That's a good thing, because when I entered the exam room at the Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital, the first thing I saw was the dreaded glove.
Although I was a first-timer at the hospital's annual free prostate cancer screening, I knew what the glove was for.
But in less than a minute, the whole procedure was over. Bernie, the hospital's chief of robotic surgery, gave me a clean bill of prostate health. His digital exam and the low readings from the PSA blood test I had done earlier in the week meant I wasn't among the estimate 217,730 American men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year.
"You need to have it done each year," Bernie reminded me as I was leaving. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, with screenings held frequently. It's recommended that men begin having annual screenings when they turn 50.
"We get all ranges of people who come to these," said Bernie. "All ages, and some are here for the first time like you, others return every year. We fill all our appointment slots."
Prostate cancer is the second deadliest cancer among American men, with more than 32,000 estimated to die from the disease this year.
"We detect a handful of cancers each time we do this, and by doing so we can save lives," Bernie said. "That's a good thing. It's what we're here for."
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