What is Prostate Cancer & How Can You Avoid It?
Did you know…
Prostate cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in men in the United States
What is Prostate Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer starts when cells in the prostate gland start to grow irrepressibly. The prostate is a muscular gland that is found below the bladder and is in front of the rectum. When prostate cancer forms it is due to cancerous cells spreading and attacking the prostate gland. This cancer is found only in males, as prostates are glands exclusively found in the male anatomy.
There are several different types of prostate cancer. It is important to note that only a medical professional can diagnose you with prostate cancer and can specify which type you may have. The different types of prostate cancer include:
- Transitional cell carcinomas
- Neuroendocrine tumors
- Small cell carcinomas
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a silent cancer, meaning most of the time it can go undetected due to a lack of apparent signs and symptoms. Prostate cancer will rarely cause symptoms, but if it does you may experience:
- Decreased fluid ejaculation
- Painful ejaculation
- Apparent blood in the urine or semen
- Pain or a stiff sensation in the hips, pelvis, thighs or lower part of the back
- Difficulty urinating
- Difficulty holding in urination
- Feeling the need to urinate often and urgently
- Flow of urine may weaken
It is incredibly important to note that most males do not experience symptoms of prostate cancer. Conversely, prostate cancer is most commonly found when males go in for their regular prostate exam and screenings. Prostate exams are typically advised to begin around the age 50, unless your doctor feels as though your family history warrants them sooner. In order to get a better idea of when you should start participating in regular screenings, please reach out to your medical professional.
What Causes Prostate Cancer & How Can You Avoid It?
Researchers have been unable to pinpoint exactly what causes prostate cancer but have narrowed down some risk factors that can increase a man’s chances of getting prostate cancer. These factors include:
- Age: Chances of getting prostate cancer rise rapidly after the age of 50. According to the American Cancer Society, about 60% of prostate cancer cases are in men older than 65 years of age.
- Race & Ethnicity: Although the reasons are unclear, research shows that prostate cancer affects more African-American men and Caribbean men of African descent than men of other races.
- Geography: Again, for reasons that are unclear, research has indicated that prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia and on Caribbean Islands.
- Familial History: Prostate cancer can be genetic and men whose ancestors were affected by prostate cancer have a higher risk of having prostate cancer as well. If the affected ancestors were young when the prostate cancer was detected, the chances of developing prostate cancer are significantly higher.
It should be noted that there is no research to link diet and lifestyle directly to a man’s chances of getting prostate cancer, however it is encouraged that all men life healthy lifestyles. This includes the following lifestyles changes and styles:
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid drinking alcohol in excess
- Healthy and balanced diet
- Exercise at least 30 minutes each day, pending doctor approval
- Drink plenty of water
- Get enough sleep
How Can Prostate Cancer be Detected?
Prostate cancer can be detected early by either conducting a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in a man’s blood or by a digital rectal exam (DRE). Both tests can be administered by your doctor. If there is detection of any abnormalities, it will be addressed with further testing and treatment right away.
It is advisable for men to see their doctor on a regular basis and speak to them about any prostate abnormalities or how to get screened for prostate cancer. It is especially important for men over the age of 50 to go and get yearly prostate exams, as their risk of developing prostate cancer increases.
How Can We Help Fight Against Prostate Cancer?
The Movember Foundation works towards providing funds for programs that will change the way men view going to the doctor, being ill and asking for help. During the month of November, they encourage men to grow out their mustache to spark conversation about men’s health and to promote awareness.