What Is Prostate Cancer and How To Prevent It

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, just behind lung cancer. While these statistics may be shocking, it is important to mention that while prostate cancer is a serious disease, most men diagnosed and treated do not die from it. That’s why it is imperative to get regular prostate cancer screenings.

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that arises in the prostate gland, which is part of the male reproductive system. Most men with prostate cancer do not experience any symptoms. Usually, the cancer is found before symptoms arise due to routine screenings. Left untreated, prostate cancer can cause difficulty urinating, blood in urine or cancer spreading to the surrounding bones and lymph nodes, causing pain.

There are risk factors that can increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

  • Age: The chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer rapidly increases after age 50. Men under 40 are less likely to develop the cancer, but it is still possible in rare circumstances.
  • Race/ethnicity: Prostate cancer is more prevalent in Caribbean and African American men. Typically, when men of Caribbean or African descent develop prostate cancer, they tend to be younger than other ethnicities. Non-Hispanic white men are more at risk for prostate cancer than Asian American and Hispanic/Latino men.
  • Geography: North America, northwestern Europe, Caribbean islands and Australia have the highest incidents of prostate cancer.
  • Family history – According to the American Cancer Society, having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing the disease.

Prevention

While there isn’t a clear answer to what causes prostate cancer, a healthy diet can make a big difference in overall health. Avoid heavily processed foods and replace them with fruit, vegetables and lean meats. Lycopene, a carotenoid and antioxidant found in red-colored fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, has been suggested in many studies to decrease the risk of prostate cancer.

Routine screenings are the best way to detect cancer at the early stages. It is generally recommended that men begin getting screened for prostate cancer beginning at age 50. However, if there is a first-degree relative with the disease or a strong family history, the recommended screening age may be lower. Prostate cancer can often be found early by testing a blood sample. Prostate cancer is a disease that commonly will not show any symptoms during the screening period when it is the most curable.

Learn more about prostate cancer, treatments and screenings.