NEW YORK--Baseball-Hall-of-Famer Bob Watson remembered feeling "on top of the world" in October, 1993, after being named the first African-American general manager of a major league ball club (the Houston Astros), but the very next year, at the age of 47, he was feeling "angry and afraid" after learning he had prostate cancer.
NEW YORK--Baseball-Hall-of-Famer Bob Watson remembered feeling"on top of the world" in October, 1993, after beingnamed the first African-American general manager of a major leagueball club (the Houston Astros), but the very next year, at theage of 47, he was feeling "angry and afraid" after learninghe had prostate cancer.
Mr. Watson, who is now the general manager of the New York Yankees,wants to get the message out--in particular to African-Americanswhose risk of developing prostate cancer is 37% higher than thatof white men--that all men should have an annual digital rectalexamination and a PSA test starting at age 50, and high-risk men(African-Americans and any man with a family history of prostatecancer) should begin testing at age 40.
"I believe the PSA test saved my life," he said at acombined American Cancer Society/Cancer Research Institute mediabriefing.
His PSA level of 5.8 set off a chain of events, including ultrasoundand biopsy, that showed "one of the most aggressive formsof prostate cancer," Mr. Watson said, but fortunately itwas still enclosed in the gland. His surgery was successful, andhe has been an outspoken patient activist ever since.
Mr. Watson pointed out that in 1996 some 40,000 American men willdie of prostate cancer, "more people than can fit in FenwayPark," the Boston stadium that seats 36,500.
A Prostate Cancer Day is planned for Yankee Stadium, he said,and, partly as a symbolic gesture to encourage older men to betested, all major league players will have a PSA test as partof their annual spring training physical.
The American Cancer Society's new "Man-to-Man" programwill be using support groups to promote prostate cancer awarenessin the general population, but particularly among those who areat high-risk, especially in the African-American community.
"Man-to-Man," which is now on the Internet and can bereached at htp:--www.cancer.org, seeks to take the traditionalsupport group program, with its focus on group meetings, to anotherlevel: to reach patients in their own environment, preferablyat home, at the time the diagnosis is made.