Prostate cancer affects an average of one in seven men during their lifetime. It is common in men as young as 41 years old. Current medical research, testing, and treatments are progressively improving. When cancer is detected early, a man’s chances of survival will significantly increase. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there will be over 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer in 2015. However, the estimates of death from this cancer are just over 27,000. Based on these numbers, death from the disease is not always a certainty. Prostate cancer prevention requires knowing the risks and communication with one’s doctor.
There are many factors which raise a man’s chance of getting this cancer. The ACS reports state, at this point, there is no research that indicates what causes prostate cancer. However, the studies have helped researchers to understand which risk factors are “linked to the disease.”
- Age increases the risk of men developing this disease. When young, the prostate gland is small, but as a man ages, it can become larger. Testosterone and other hormones cause the size change. This cancer in very common in men over 60 years old. However, men between 41 and 60 also have a chance to become inflicted with this disease.
- In the United States, African-American men have a higher chance of developing this cancer, and they have a higher death rate than those of any other race.
- Men with a brother or father who have had the disease are at a greater risk to get it themselves. This is especially true if their family members were young when the cancer was diagnosed.
- Even though genetics can play a part in raising the risk of the disease, this only accounts for a “small fraction of cases.”
- If a man lives in the Caribbean, Australia, northwestern Europe or North America, his risk of developing this disease is greater than men who live in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia.
- Men whose diet includes high-fat dairy products or large quantities of red meat appear to have an increased risk of getting prostate cancer.
- There are studies that have indicated obese men might have a greater chance of “having more advanced cancer and dying” from the disease. Conversely, “not all of the studies have found this” to be true.
Traditionally, a digital prostate exam was the typical diagnostic method that was done on a regular basis once a man reached the age where the disease was a concern. Even though the digital exam is still used a diagnostic tool, there is now a blood test which is used more often. The blood test is called the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.
Often, the blood test and/or the digital exam are completed after a man has visited his doctor complaining of symptoms. However, regular screening can detect cancer even when symptoms are not present. Prostate cancer prevention requires knowing the risks and regular communication between a man and his physician. Knowing the symptoms are also an important tool for a man to keep in mind.
Men who have developed prostate cancer at a young age often do not exhibit symptoms. However, a man with “more advanced” cancer could show symptoms such as problems with urination, having erectile dysfunction, or having blood in his urine. Further symptoms include weakness and/or numbing in his legs or feet and pain in his bones such as hips, ribs, or spine. Another problem which can indicate prostate cancer is “the loss of bladder or bowel control.”
While the symptoms listed above can indicate the presence of prostate cancer, they can also be caused by other illnesses. Talking about the problems will assist the doctor in ordering the appropriate tests to rule out any other medical problems.
Early detection can improve the chances of survival of the disease. Understanding an individual’s risks and the possible symptoms are important. Prostate cancer prevention requires having knowledge of the facts and communication with one’s doctor. When the cancer is detected, willingness to follow the prescribed treatment will decrease the chances of dying from prostate cancer.
By Cathy Milne
Edited By Leigh Haugh
American Cancer Society–Prostate Cancer Overview
National Cancer Institute–Prostate Cancer Screening for Health Professionals
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