Public service? Entertainment? Maybe both
A public service announcement masquerading as a comedy show. That’s how one reviewer described Ed Asner’s one-man play, " A Man and his Prostate."
The play is written by Ed Weinberg, who has won a Peabody Award, three Golden Globes, and has written for "The Tonight Show," and the sitcoms "Taxi" and "The Cosby Show." Asner, of course, won seven Prime Time Emmy Awards for his work on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Lou Grant."
The play is based in part on Weinberg’s personal experiences. Asner portrays a man who makes an unexpected visit to a foreign emergency room and then prepares for what many men dread: surgery for prostate cancer. Part of the message of the show is that men should be regularly screened for prostate cancer, which can be more easily treated in its early stages.
Besides his TV work, Asner, 88, played Santa Claus in the film "Elf," and was the voice of Carl Fredreicksen in Pixar’s "Up."
A native of Kansas City, Asner graduated from the University of Chicago, then while in the Army toured in plays at Army camps in Europe.
He had a variety of roles in Broadway and television before creating the role of grouchy but soft-hearted Lou Grant, the Minneapolis television station manager on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
Both performances of "A Man and His Prostate" will be followed by a question-and-answer session including physicians from Mayo Clinic’s urology department.
What: "A Man and His Prostrate," starring Ed Asner
When: 7 p.m. March 27 and 28
Where: Rochester Civic Theatre, 20 Civic Center Drive SE
Tickets: $50, at the box office, at rochestercivictheatre.org and 507-282-8184
Should you be screened for prostate cancer? If so, when? How is it treated?
Ahead of next week’s Rochester Civic Theatre production, "A Man and his Prostate," starring Ed Asner, Dr. Bradley Leibovich, chairman of Mayo Clinic’s Department of Urology, answered those and other questions.
How do I find prostate cancer early?
"That’s an area of controversy, but in general the answer is you should talk to your physician about whether you should get a PSA blood test. PSA is a protein that’s found in the blood and can be elevated in men with prostate cancer. It’s an imperfect screening test, but it’s the best screening test we have and can help find cancer early so we are more likely to be able to cure the cancer and preserve quality of life."
Should I be screened?
"If you ask most urologists, the answer would be that for most men in their mid-50s and beyond, the answer is yes. For men that have a strong family history or other risk factors we may start screening as early as age 40."
How treatable is prostate cancer?
"Prostate cancer, when it’s found early, is very treatable. Early-stage prostate cancer sometimes can be treated by what we call active surveillance. So you just literally keep an eye on things with serial testing, without any active treatment. Other patients with early prostate cancer are better treated with something like surgery or radiation therapy. The goal and expectation with many of those patients is that we will be curing them."
What lifestyle choices can I make to help prevent prostate cancer?
"There’s not a lot in terms of modifiable risk factors. However, there are a few things that might make a difference. Not becoming obese — just a healthy lifestyle overall — is a big one. … There’s (some) evidence that a diet that’s really high in fat, or people that eat a lot of red meat might increase risk. There really isn’t much else."
How will Ed Asner’s performance here help?
"Men are much less likely to get screened for prostate cancer and other cancers than women are to get screened for things like breast cancer or cervical cancer. … Part of that is just misconceptions or fear. That’s problematic.
"It’s a major benefit to the community to have (Asner) come talk and demystify screening. Just because we’ve got the world famous Mayo Clinic in the community doesn’t mean that all men access it. I’m hoping this will help bring down some of those barriers that prevent men from getting screened."
— Jeff Pieters