Prostate Cancer Centre mobilizes rolling facility for early prostrate detection in men

When you see this van you may do a double take. It’s blue and bright, bearing enormous checkered underwear with “GET CHECKED” printed across it.

Produced by Angie Lang

The Man Van is a mobile unit operated by the Calgary Prostate Cancer Centre (PCC). The Man Van’s staff, consisting of several volunteers and nurses, drive to various locations in and around Calgary offering free Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood tests to men over 40 years old.

David Lunn, a volunteer for the Prostate Cancer Centre, knows how important it is to get checked early on. Lunn was diagnosed with prostate cancer eight years ago and opted to have a prostatectomy.

David Lunn (centre) and Man Van nurses prepare for an afternoon of PSA testing to men over 40 years old.

Photo by Angie Lang“I knew that prostate cancer was easily treatable but I thought, well, given the options, let’s have it out. I wasn’t overly worried. I definitely remember not being too concerned, when other people might be because of what I knew about prostate cancer,” says Lunn.

Prostate health may not be the highest priority for most men, but prostate cancer is the leading cancer among Alberta men, according to Prostate Cancer Alberta. Eight men will die from it every week.

“I am not sure that men are reluctant [to get tested], I’m just not sure that they know. Unless they have a family connection or their doctor says something about it, how would they know?” says Lunn.

The Prostrate Cancer Centre and the Man Van strive to create awareness, education, diagnosis and treatment. Lunn says the main objective of the van is to raise awareness and provide a safe and comfortable environment where men can be tested.

The PCC initiated the Man Van eight years ago to bring awareness to the importance of baseline PSA testing to men over 40. The centre relies heavily on donours, sponsors and volunteers. Bonnie Ball is the newest member of the Prostate Cancer Centre in Calgary.

Ball says, “We test around 20 to 30 men each time we come to Safeway locations. We are thrilled to have them as a sponsor and it’s a great way to take care of men’s health.”

According to statistics gathered by the Calgary Prostate Cancer Centre, the Man Van mobile units have tested over 17,000 men since 2009.

The simple blood test that men receive in the van helps indicate if their PSA levels are too high or too low. The PSA, or prostate specific antigen, is a substance produced by the prostate and released in small amounts throughout the bloodstream. The amount of PSA in the bloodstream can predict a man’s risk of prostate cancer.

Unfortunately, prostate cancer shows no early signs and it is the Prostate Cancer Centre’s mission to eliminate advanced prostate cancer.

“Prostate cancer is 99 per cent treatable if detected early on and we encourage men to get checked at age 40,” says Ball.

Annually, over 12,000 men and their families visit the Prostate Cancer Centre to access support and medical information from professionals, as well as volunteers who have experience with prostate cancer.

September was prostate cancer awareness month.

For more information on the Man Van and upcoming locations, head to: http://www.prostatecancercentre.ca/manvan/ 

The ‘Movember‘ campaign throughout the month of November also raises awareness on prostate cancer and testicular cancer. More information can be found on the Prostate Cancer Alberta website.

alang@cjournal.ca