Prostate cancer is currently the third most common cause of death from cancer among men per year, but new methods of screening and treatment are improving recovery rates and quality of life for men with the disease every day. Prostate cancer will affect many of us, whether we develop it ourselves or if our husbands, fathers, brothers, or friends do, so it’s important to be informed about the risks, screening, treatment options, and prevention. Since September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to provide you with some basic information about prostate cancer you can easily share with your family and friends.
What is prostate cancer? Prostate cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that starts in the prostate, which is a small, walnut-sized gland that makes up part of a man’s reproductive system. The prostate wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. For these reasons, prostate cancer can affect a man’s sex life and urination.
What is your risk? All men are at risk but certain groups are at higher risk, including but not limited to men who have a family history of prostate cancer, African-American men, and men over the age of 60. A diet high in fat can also increase your risk of developing the disease. However, only your doctor can determine what your individual risk is, so it’s very important to discuss your medical history with him or her.
How can you be screened? Common screening methods include a blood test, called a PSA test, and a physical exam in which your doctor feels your prostate for abnormalities, called a digital rectal exam. General guidelines of when to begin screening can be found our website, but you and your doctor should determine when you specifically should begin screening and how often. For some, screening can occur as early at 40 years old if you are at risk for developing the disease.
How is prostate cancer treated? Treatments include watchful waiting, radiation therapy, surgery, and hormone therapy.
How can you prevent prostate cancer? If you’re looking for ways to decrease your chance of developing prostate cancer, try exercising daily and adhering to a vegetarian and/or low fat diet. Also, foods high in the antioxidant lycopene, such as watermelon, and soy products that contain isoflavones, may help lower your risk.
Prostate cancer can be difficult to talk about, but we hope that you use this information to get the conversation started with your family, friends, and most importantly, your doctor. For more detailed information on risks, screening, treatment options, and prevention, watch our prostate cancer series here.
Prostate Cancer. PubMed Health, 2010. (Accessed September 19, 2011 at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001418/.)