FREE testing for prostate cancer is set to be offered by the Department of Health (DOH) and private hospitals on Saturday, June 14, across the country as part of "National PaDRE and Men's Health Day" program of the government.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said that it would be a good way for the public to celebrate Father's Day by bringing their fathers to any of the 64 participating public and private hospitals offering free digital rectal examination (DRE).

"Screening among men is needed to detect the disease in its early stage. If you love your dad, bring him on June 14 to any participating hospital/clinic for a free DRE," Ona said in a statement.

He said 27 DOH–retained and 37 private hospitals around the country are set to offer free DRE, which is one of the main screening procedures in assessing the prostate.

Among the participating private hospitals are University of Sto Tomas Hospital in Manila, Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City, Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City, Fortunecare Medical Clinic in Tarlac City, Pres. Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital in Olongapo City, St. Louis University Hospital of the Sacred Heart in Baguio City, St. Elizabeth Hospital in General Santos City, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Medical Center in Pampanga, Medical Center of Digos in Davao del Sur, Mariano Marcos Memorial Medical Center in Ilocos Norte, Fatima Medical Center in Valenzuela City, and Manila East Medical Center in Taytay, Rizal.

Ona said all males aged 40 years and above to undergo testing for prostate cancer considering that it is the fourth most common cancer among Filipino males.

Based on the 2010 Cancer Facts and Figures of the DOH, there are about 2,712 new cases of prostate cancer being diagnosed annually in the Philippines as well as an estimated 1, 410 deaths.

"Increasing age is most important risk and the number of Filipino males aged 40 years and older is the main reason for the significant increase and the expected continuing increase in cases of prostate cancer," said Ona.

Prostate cancer is defined as a type of cancer that forms in tissues of the prostate, which is a gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

It does not manifest any symptoms in the initial stages although it may later result to frequent, painful urinating, and blood in the urine, to more advanced signs like bone pain, leg weakness, and urinary and fecal incontinence. (HDT/Sunnex)