When Padres minor league coach Tony Muser teaches the fundamentals of hitting a baseball, he starts with the basics: rhythm, timing and visualization.
“You’ve gotta be able to see the ball and understand what you’re looking at,” he says. “You can’t hit something you can’t see.”
Muser, 62, says the same approach applied in his fight against prostate cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men.
“Men can’t deal with prostate cancer if they can’t see it, and the only way to see it is to get screened,” says Muser, who has been cancer-free for five years.
Scripps Clinic doctors noticed an irregularity in Muser’s prostate gland during Spring Training physicals in 2004. Another exam at season’s end revealed Muser had prostate cancer.
“I would have never known unless I had my baseball physicals every spring,” Muser says. “If I had procrastinated getting it checked, I might not even be here today.”
Muser urges men to take matters into their own hands. “We’ve got to stop this macho mindset that we can handle anything that comes down the pike,” he says. “Getting a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening test is a simple step that can save your life.”
Dr. Harry Albers is a member of the Padres medical staff from Scripps Clinic and one of Muser’s primary care physicians.
“For Tony, the regular exams definitely made a big difference,” Dr. Albers says. “His PSA numbers had started to elevate when he managed the (Kansas City) Royals in the late 1990s, and we kept a close eye on it when he came to the Padres.”
Fortunately, Muser took the next step and underwent a biopsy. When the results revealed prostate cancer, he opted to have the gland surgically removed and has been free from cancer ever since. Muser continues to undergo PSA tests every six months and says he will for the rest of his life.
Scripps Cancer Center encourages men of average prostate cancer risk to discuss PSA testing with their physicians starting at age 50. Men at higher risk (African-Americans and those with a family history of prostate cancer) should start this discussion as early as age 40. Annual rectal exams are also recommended, using the same age guidelines.