HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4)– According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 man in 41 will die of prostate cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer.

(credit: Bucky Dilts)

Now, a former Denver Bronco and prostate cancer survivor has become an advocate for early detection. He was a punter, a member of the Broncos team that went to Super Bowl XII.

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“I signed a free agent contract for $1,000 in cash,” said Bucky Dilts.

But if Dilts had punted when it came to prostate cancer…

“You could end up dying or missing a lot of life if you didn’t do something with it,” Dilts said.

Dilts has a family history. Both his father and his uncle had prostate cancer. Dilts got tested, diagnosed and had surgery at age 55.

(credit: CBS)

Now, he advocates for mens’ health. He would like to do what women have done for breast cancer.

“They took over all the pro football teams and turned them pink! You see nothing about prostate cancer in pro football,” Dilts told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

“It’s really important to have men, like Bucky, out there talking with people about this,” said Dr. Paul Maroni, University of Colorado Cancer Center member and associate professor in the Department of Surgery, Urology Division

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Maroni said men fear treatments that can lead to urinary incontinence and impotence.

“But if we can find it early, we might be able to minimize some of the side effects of those treatments,” said Maroni.

Maroni said, nowadays, prostate MRI can help pinpoint the cancers and there are treatments like cryotherapy, freezing and destroying the cancer cells.

He said early detection increases treatment options.

(credit: CBS)

“So what’s it hurt to check? It doesn’t hurt to check,” said Dilts.

Dilts checked and 10 years later he’s talking about it and hoping other men will, too.

Additional Information From UCHealth:

Dr. Maroni see patients at UCHealth Tony Grampsas Urologic Cancer Care Clinic at the University of Colorado Hospital and UCHealth Cancer Center Highlands Ranch, which offer both standard and advanced treatment options and access to clinical trials via the CU Cancer Center.

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LINKS: CU Cancer Center | Dr. Paul Maroni’s profile