COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The John B. Amos Cancer Center in Columbus hosted a free prostate cancer screening event on Saturday to kick off Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Physicians at the John B. Amos Cancer Center stress the importance of early detection when it comes to prostate cancer. 

Marine veteran, Frank Freeland, is a huge advocate for cancer screenings as he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2022. Freeland credits his military training for his tenacious attitude when battling cancer. He underwent grueling radiation treatments for 30 days.

Today, Freeland is in remission, taking medication to slow down his male hormone development and has checkups every 6 months. He is forever grateful for the cancer center that saved him. 

“It’s given me life,” said Freeland. “It’s given me hope. It’s given me a chance to  still be with my family… to still do things with my wife. That cancer is not the thing that’s going to take you out right now because they’re going to try to stop it.”

Dr. Woodrow McWilliams is a radiation oncologist at the John B. Amos Cancer Center and played a pivotal role in Freeland’s treatment plan. McWilliams administered prostate exams during the event for men ages 40 to 69. He says early detection is a game changer for a patient’s who face prostate cancer.

“We used to say that there was about a 30 percent reduction in death rate mortality risk by detecting it early at one point,” said Dr. McWilliams. “Now, the recent data since 1993 to 2013, they’ve seen almost a 50 percent reduction in death with patients. What’s interesting, prostate cancer is very common. One in eight men get prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime, but the point spread is that only one in 41 die directly from it.”

Piedmont staff members tailored the free screening event towards their patients, making it an inviting experience. Football balloons and football field banners adorned the waiting area. Other organizations raffled a men’s grooming kit and handed out free sandwiches. 

Columbus City Councilman Jerry “Pops” Barnes stopped by to get screened. Barnes lost 3 friends this year to prostate cancer. He says the prevalence of the disease heightens the importance of cancer screenings. 

“And this is what I really like to see… some of the wives here making their husbands come to get checked,” said Councilman Barnes. “We men don’t take care… this is my opinion, Pops Barnes’ opinion… we men don’t follow through with our health as often as our wives do. So to see some of the wives come down here and have their husbands get tested really warms my heart.”

Dr. McWilliams says patients who have West African ethnic descent are disproportionately impacted by prostate cancer. According to the 2020 census, Muscogee County has an African American population of over 90,000 people. 

Despite the forecast, physicians screened 66 men at Saturday’s event.