Calculator helps men identify prostate cancer risk

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Jack Compton, 72, likes to hear all the facts before he makes his decisions.

Compton spent 34 years with NASA training astronauts. So when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago, he carefully reviewed his options.

"And when you understand that, then you say, 'Well what's the likelihood that cancer's going to kill me?"" Compton said.

Compton chose to monitor his cancer instead of undergoing treatment.

"These slow-growing cancers, I would contend that if I had a choice of doing a biopsy on a man who finds those, I'd rather not find it," said Dr. Ian M. Thompson Jr., a urology professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

Thompson figured out a unique way for men to evaluate their risk of developing prostate cancer by using a simple tool called the Prostate Cancer Risk Calculator.

In a couple of minutes, a man can find out his risk for both low and high grade cancers by entering some information about himself.

"Compare that red risk to the yellow risk to the green risk and then let the man think about what he's concerned about," Thompson said.

Results are based on a prostate cancer prevention study that involved close to 19,000 men. Numeric percentages are complemented with emoticons that are happy, serious or sad.

Compton didn't use the calculator, but encourages others to take advantage of it.

"I don't think a lot of the world realizes there's a tool like that sitting out there," Compton said.

There are restrictions with the calculator, such as a man has to be 55 years old or older and without a prior prostate cancer diagnosis. For more information on the calculator, visit deb.uthscsa.edu.

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