Prevention, Screenings & Treatment: What Men of All Ages Need to Know About Prostate Cancer
To many, prostate cancer may seem like some distant disease that only affects older men. This isn’t always the case, however. Unfortunately, it can affect men at any point in their lives. While it’s true that the average age of diagnosis is 66, there are still around 3,600 new cases of prostate cancer in men under the age of 50 every year.
And, longterm lifestyle choices in younger years can have a significant impact on the risk level of developing the disease later in life, so it’s important to be aware of the disease at all ages.
Here are the different preventative steps and screenings that men of all ages should be aware of to continue living a happy, healthy life.
Prostate Cancer Prevention
Although family history and race play a significant role in the risk of prostate cancer and are obviously out of a man’s control, several lifestyle choices can also increase his chance of developing the disease. Understanding these risk factors and taking steps to avoid them is crucial to staying healthy and cancer-free.
Regular Exercise To Reduce Risk
There is some evidence that men at a higher weight have increased levels of prostate-specific antigens in their blood, and are therefore at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Therefore, a consistent exercise routine can help keep weight levels healthy and work to prevent cancer.
While there’s no definitive evidence that a healthy diet prevents prostate cancer directly, it certainly does improve overall health, which can lower cancer risk. It’s important, however, to differentiate healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins from supplements. Natural sources of vitamins and minerals are much more preferred for a holistic health approach to daily life.
Prostate Cancer Screenings
Prostate cancer has a 100% survival rate if detected early enough to prevent its spread to other organs and tissue. Therefore, it’s critical that men speak with their doctor about different screenings to stay on top of their health.
Men at Risk
Doctors recommend that all men get prostate exams every four years, starting around age 50. Men who are African-American or have a family history of prostate cancer, however, are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer and should start exams at age 45. Additionally, men should get a prostate-specific antigen blood test to support the physical exam and detect the presence of the disease in the body.
Prostate Cancer Survivors
Men who are in remission from prostate cancer can still be at risk of developing the disease again if it wasn’t fully eradicated. Therefore, survivors must continue regular screenings based on professional recommendations. This will likely be individualized by your doctor, but it’s also important to continue screenings annually to be sure the cancer doesn’t resurface.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
If prostate cancer is detected, there are several treatment options available. Patients should keep in mind, though, that their treatment choices should be personalized for their own unique case.
Hormone therapy is an effective treatment for cases of advanced prostate cancer. Male hormones like testosterone are what fuel the cancer’s cellular growth, so therapy that stops the natural production of testosterone can help prevent tumor development. It’s necessary for patients to keep in mind, however, that a decreased amount of testosterone in the body can cause unexpected impacts (especially in the bedroom, as low T can cause erectile dysfunction). They should speak with their doctor about ways to treat side effects specifically so that they can lead healthy, more fulfilling lives.
If the cancer is concentrated solely in the prostate, a skilled surgeon can remove the organ and (likely) remove the cancer altogether. This is typically a traditional open surgery and can be completed relatively quickly. This option is most effective for patients whose cancer hasn’t spread. If the surgeon accidentally knicks the nerves surrounding the prostate, however, the patient’s sexual functioning and urinary control may be affected, so patients must go to a skilled surgeon for help.
There are two types of radiation therapy: brachytherapy and external beam radiation. Both use different methods to kill cancer cells with radiation, either through beams or through seeds planted and then removed from the prostate. Common side effects include urinary and rectal difficulties, so it’s important for patients to reach out for help if they experience any side effects after recovery.
Patients should keep in mind that there are also alternative methods to feel better during treatment. Treatments ranging from sound therapy to acupuncture have been used to help cancer patients feel better and fight pain for centuries. Individuals should be sure to consult with their doctor to be sure that their alternative therapy will not interrupt their medical treatment.
For further reading about prostate cancer, check out these resources:
For more information on different screenings that men should have throughout their lives, read through this guide, and discuss your risk levels with your physician:
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