Editor’s note: This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.
Why are we talking about prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is the most common malignant tumor in men and the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths with 165,000 new cases in the United States. Though, it can be successfully treated if found early. There are 3 million men in the United States who are a prostate cancer survivors, including big Hollywood stars like Robert De Niro (The Godfather Part II), Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings) and Ben Stiller (Zoolander). Thanks to the actors’ regular checkups, doctors were able to detect cancer early enough.
Ben Stiller opened up about the importance of taking a blood test for prostate-specific antigens (PSA) in 2014 after he had surgery and fully recovered he told journalists:
Taking the PSA test saved my life. Literally.
Prostate cancer is caused by changes in the DNA of the prostate gland cells. It can happen due to inherited gene mutations, but most often – due to mutations that occurred during a person’s life. Also, some inflammatory processes may contribute to the development of this disease.
Who’s at risk?
The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. It mainly affects men over 50. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
There are 3 main risk groups:
● men older 60;
● men with a family history of prostate cancer;
● black men
About 1 in 4 black men and 1 in 8 Caucasian men get prostate cancer later in life.
Recently, obesity was added to risk factors for developing aggressive (more likely to spread fast) or advanced prostate cancer.
Unfortunately, it does not mean if you are young, you are off the hook. There are some cases of prostate cancer in men around 30 years of age. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so pay attention to your health and look for early signs.
How can one detect prostate cancer early?
Apparent symptoms of the prostate cancer appear at the second stage of the disease. Until then it can be found only during a proctological examination (finger test). That is why it is vitally important to overcome fear and awkwardness and visit a doctor regularly.
During the grows of the tumor symptoms may include one or more of following signs:
● constant urge to urinate;
● painful urination;
● constant feeling that the bladder never completely empty;
● enuresis (urinary incontinence);
● frequent inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract;
● blood in the sperm and urine;
If you feel any of this symptoms – book a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. Do not wait for them to go away. It may not be cancer. It may be a BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) which is not life-threatening but still needs to be looked at and dealt with.
How can I be sure it is cancer?
Because malignant tumors of the prostrate form in the part of the gland that is closer to the rectum, the best way to diagnose prostate cancer early is regular finger examinations.
Rectal examination allows detecting an abnormal structure of the gland: its density, size, and structure.
If there is any suspicions, doctor will prescribe additional tests:
● blood test for PSA scores (prostate-specific antigen);
● transrectal ultrasound;
What can you do to prevent prostate cancer?
There is nothing you can do with risk factors such as age, race, and family history. But there is something you can do to strengthen your overall health.
A healthy lifestyle is essential to keep our bodies working in balance. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help maintain a healthy weight.
Everybody knows about sport and exercises, but a lot of men underestimate the advantages of a healthy meal. For example, men in East Asian countries such as China and Japan are less likely to get prostate cancer because of the western diet. They eat more fruits, vegetables, fish, and avoid meat, dairy, sugar, and fat.
Doctors are now looking at the positive effect of soy proteins. So adding tofu to the ration will benefit men especially the ones older than 45-50 years. Overall, switching to the more vegetarian diet can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
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Photos provided by author.