Globally, more than 1.4 million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. It is the most common form of cancer in men (besides skin cancers). The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, but this condition also affects younger men.
Here is the good news: adopting a healthy lifestyle and detecting this condition earlier can make a huge difference in the outcome. Read on to learn how you can prevent prostate cancer, or better manage it, in case it already developed.
The Top 3 Conditions Affecting The Prostate
Only men have a prostate, a walnut sized gland located between the bladder and the penis, just in front of the rectum. The urethra runs from the bladder to the penis through the prostate, and is the tube men urinate and ejaculate through. Prostate makes semen, the fluid that carries sperm. Different conditions can affect the prostate.
Get familiar with the top three conditions affecting the prostate, as the first two have to be ruled out every time the third one (prostate cancer) is suspected and diagnosed.
Prostatitis is in ammation of the prostate; this in ammation is sometimes caused by an infection. In this case, the treatment will be based on antibiotics.
Enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (or BPH) is often found in men over 50. It is called “benign” because the prostate is enlarged, but there are no cancerous cells. When the enlargement is significant and causes symptoms, BPH is treated with drugs and/or surgery.
Prostate cancer develops when some prostate cells start to reproduce and grow differently than healthy cells. These cancerous cells create the well known tumors. Prostate cancer usually grows slowly and the growth is connected to the prostate gland. Your doctor may consider that no treatment is needed. However, other types of prostate cancer are aggressive and quickly spread and invade other organs (ie lymph nodes, bones), producing secondary tumors in a process called metastasis.
Treatment Options For Prostate Cancer
Conventional treatment for prostate cancer includes surgery (called prostatectomy), radiation therapy (or the newer radioactive seed implants), chemotherapy, hormone therapy and cryotherapy (the prostate cancer cells are killed by freezing them). Some doctors prefer the “watch and wait” approach in some cases of prostate cancer, depending on the type or cancer, the age of the patient and other factors.
More Details About Prostate Cancer. Warning Signs and Risk Factors
When prostate cancer is detected early, the survival rate is comparable with someone with no cancer- around 98%, according to some scientific studies. If prostate cancer is detected in a late stage, the survival rate at 5 years can drop below 26%. Beyond these numbers and statistics, keep in mind that a healthy diet, along with regular exercise, better sleep and less stress can make a huge difference in how you treat and prevent prostate cancer.
Watch out for warning signs and symptoms and book an appointment with your doctor for further evaluations if needed. As a general rule, the symptoms of prostate cancer are related to urinary and sexual functions:
1) Feeling the need to urinate frequently (especially at night, but also during the day)
2) Difficulty starting urination or difficulty holding back urine
3) Weak or interrupted flow of urine
4) Feeling pain (or burning sensation) during urination
5) Troubles having an erection or experiencing pain during ejaculation
6) Blood in urine or semen
7) Pain or discomfort in pelvis, or upper thighs
If you have risk factors, you have to be even more careful.
The main risk factors are:
Age - the older you get the more likely to develop prostate cancer.
Ethnicity - Men with African American or Caribbean background are more likely to develop prostate cancer, and also experience more aggressive types of cancer.
Family history - whether you have a family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer, or family history of genes that increase risk of breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2), you have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
Extra weight - Studies show that obese men with prostate cancer are more likely to have more advanced forms of cancer and more difficult to treat.
How To Reduce The Risk Of Developing Prostate Cancer
Get tested, but... If you are 50 (or younger, if you have risk factors), talk to your doctor about evaluating your prostate. The basic tests are a digital rectal exam and PSA levels. Get tested, but be prepared to interpret the findings cautiously. There is a big debate going on about the risks and bene ts of these screening tests. Prostate exam screening has been routinely recommended since the 1980s, yet recent studies have doubts about how effective these tests are. There is an increasing amount of evidence suggesting that prostate screening does not reduce the risk of death from prostate cancer, while other studies support the bene ts of these tests. All in all, mixed results. In addition, prostate cancer seems to be over diagnosed, and this over diagnosis seems to be related to excess screening of the prostate. Other tests for prostate include prostate ultrasound and biopsy. The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor and explore all the testing options.
Look at the risk factors. Just because you have risk factors (ie family history of prostate or breast cancer) does not mean that you will develop the cancer. You can’t change your ethnic background, or age, or genetic susceptibility, but you can choose to lose extra weight, make lifestyle changes (ie diet, exercise, supplements) and guess what? These changes can dramatically decrease the risk of getting most forms of cancer.
Improve your lifestyle habits.
Dietary changes can make an impact on your overall health, not just your prostate. A 2018 study concluded, “Unhealthy dietary pattern was associated with increased risk of prostate cancer. However, a healthy dietary pattern was associated with decreased risk of prostate cancer”.
Stay away from all processed foods and add more fresh vegetables, some fruits and nuts to your diet.
Limit red meats and dairy.
Previous studies found that certain foods are particularly helpful to decrease the risk of prostate cancer including: lycopene rich tomatoes, wild caught fish, green tea, pectin, pomegranate and pumpkin seeds.
Supplements that support prostate health include: selenium, vitamins D and E, zinc and fish oil. Saw palmetto is used traditionally for benign enlarged prostate.
Other lifestyle changes: sleep well, at least 7-8 hours a night. Consider a melatonin supplement, which can help prevent and manage prostate cancer. Exercise and stress management techniques like yoga and meditation can also decrease your risk for prostate cancer and/or better manage prostate cancer.