Published: Oct 10, 2011 4:14 PM EDT

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Some 371 men were told they should be checked for prostate cancer after taking a free blood test at the Kansas State Fair, and several said they appreciated the service and convenience of the tests.
    
A total of 2,569 men took advantage of the screening by the Hutchinson Clinic, which has offered the service at the State Fair for more than 20 years.
    
Of those men, 160 had a level of 4 or higher for prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, the protein that can indicate the presence of cancer in the prostate, said Lynn Harris, a spokeswoman for the clinic. And 211 men tested between 2.5 and 4. Although a reading of less than 4 nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood has generally been considered medically normal, recent research has recommended follow-up tests for levels of 2.5 to 4, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/r6T8DM).
    
Clinic doctors also conducted 43 physical prostate examinations and found eight men with prostate abnormalities. All the men were advised to contact their physician for follow-up, Harris said.
    
The project, which costs about $30,000 to $40,000 a year, is funded by the Prevent Cancer Foundation, the Hutchinson Clinic and its vendors, and charities associated with former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, who has survived prostate cancer, Harris said.
    
The National Cancer Institute said about 240,000 men nationwide will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and 33,700 will die of the disease. Although those numbers are comparable to breast cancer - 207,000 new cases and 39,800 deaths - prostate cancer receives far less attention.
    
Thomas Farrington, president of the Massachusetts-based Prostate Health Education Network, said economic and political factors have brought more attention to breast cancer. He said screening and treatment for breast cancer are less expensive than for prostate cancer.
    
"Men are not as open (about prostate cancer) as women are about breast cancer," he said. "Men have not made it a political issue."
    
Harris said it men usually are prompted by the women in their lives to take the prostate cancer test at the State Fair.
    
"The wives would see the sign and make their husbands go have the test done," she said.
    
Travis Gray, 41, of Great Bend, said he took the test because of parental pressure.
    
"They've been after me to get blood work of that kind," Gray said.
    
While the men who are tested at the fair are told to expect results within a couple of weeks, Harris said the results are usually sent out in a day or two because lab technicians at the Hutchinson Clinic work on their own time to process the samples.
    
She said it's gratifying work. During her shifts at the fair this year, "I would guess I had maybe 20 individuals tell me we found their prostate cancer at the fair."

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