4 Min Read
Prostate Cancer: What to Know
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States. About 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be over 248,000 new cases of prostate cancer and over 34,000 deaths from the disease in 2021. It is a common disease with easily overlooked symptoms. It’s important to be educated about all facets of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer, which occurs only in men, begins when cells in the prostate gland begin to grow out of control. Some prostate cancers grow and spread quickly, but most grow slowly. There have been many cases in older men (and some younger men) who have died from other causes and had prostate cancer but never realized it. Know the symptoms:
- Difficulty urinating
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Difficulty emptying the bladder completely
- Pain or burning during urination
- Blood in urine or semen
- Persistent pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
- Painful ejaculation
Some of these symptoms may be caused by conditions other than this disease. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
There are a number of risk factors associated with prostate cancer. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will develop cancer, and not all who develop prostate cancer will have risk factors. Regardless, knowing the risk factors can lead to early detection:
- Age: The older you are, the higher your risk. The chance of having prostate cancer rises significantly after age 50, and about 6 in 10 cases are found in men older than 65.
- Race: Prostate cancer develops more often in Black men than in men of other races. Black men also tend to develop the disease at a younger age and are more than twice as likely to die from it than men of other races.
- Family history: While most prostate cancers occur in men without a family history of the disease, there is still a significant link between family history and developing the disease. If you have a father or brother with prostate cancer, your risk of developing the disease more than doubles.
As with most diseases, preventative measures are the best defense against diseases like prostate cancer. The best way to detect cancer is through screenings. These can be done through a rectal exam, as well as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This test measures the level of PSA in the blood, which may be increased in men with prostate cancer. Because some men have no symptoms, screenings can help find cancer at an early stage, which may make it easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about getting screened if you are at risk, experience any symptoms, or are 55 to 69 years old, on a case-to-case basis.
Some studies have found that men who are overweight are at higher risk for developing advanced prostate cancer. Other than routine screenings, here’s some general advice to reduce your risk and age healthily:
- Get to and remain at a healthy weight.
- Stay physically active.
- Follow a healthy eating pattern, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoiding red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and highly processed foods.
- Avoid diets high in dairy products and calcium.