Prostate cancer, second only to skin cancer, is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 174,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed yearly.
Prostate cancer usually grows slowly. If confined to the prostate, it may not cause any serious damage. Prostate cancer is less likely than other cancers to spread to other parts of the body. However, in some cases, it can be more aggressive, making it one of the leading causes of cancer death among men of all races.
One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Men may have a higher risk for prostate cancer if they are African American, over the age of 65, have a family history of prostate cancer and/or live in North America, northwest Europe, Australia or Caribbean Islands.
The good news is, as with most cancers, the earlier you catch it, the easier it is to treat. Men, age 40 and older, should talk with their doctor to make an informed decision on prostate cancer testing based on personal risk factors.
Many men with prostate cancer never experience symptoms and without screening, would never know they had the disease. There are some warning signs, and men should see a primary care provider if they experience bone pain, compression of the spine, painful urination, erectile dysfunction and/or blood in the urine.
Many times, a simple blood test, called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, can be a marker for prostate cancer and is generally recommended for men age 50-69. The test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate, so it is important for your primary care physician to interpret your PSA test results and make additional recommendations.
Different types of treatment are available for prostate cancer. You and your doctor will decide which treatment is right for you. Some common treatments are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and active surveillance.
Active surveillance is careful observation of PSA test results and warning signs with the intention of providing treatment should the cancer show signs of progression. Since prostate cancer often grows very slowly, some men who have prostate cancer might never need treatment.
A typical western diet, most prevalent to Americans, consists of high levels of meat consumption and highly processed foods, which are risk factors for many chronic illnesses, including prostate cancer. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean proteins can make a big difference in overall health. Specifically, lycopene, a carotenoid and antioxidant found in red-colored fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, has been investigated in many studies for its potential ability to prevent the development of prostate cancer.
Learn more about prostate cancer on ProMedica’s website.