If you are over the age of 40 you need to continue reading this, so don’t click your back button. Let’s have a real talk about Prostate Cancer; what you need to know about it and what you can do to reduce your risk of developing it. Prostate cancer is more common in men than breast cancer is in women, and rarely occurs in males under the age of 40 according to government studies. It is the second leading cancer diagnosis in men after skin cancer. The good news about Prostate Cancer is if you catch it early and check your prostate annually your chances of dying from it are greatly reduced. The facts are that most prostate cancers grow very slowly and usually does not affect a man’s well-being; in fact, most men die from other causes before prostate cancer can kill them. That being said, there are some things you need to know about this disease and what you can do to reduce your risks as early detection is the key to surviving it.
WHO’S AT RISK?
While there is limited concrete evidence on how to reduce your risk of Prostate Cancer, there is three evidence backed risk factors you cannot control — your age, your ethnicity and genetic heredity.
- AGE: Your risk of developing prostate cancer grows significantly over 50 years of age. Most men that are diagnosed tend to be 65 or older. This is why beginning PSA and DRE exams annually after age 40 are helpful in early detection.
- Race/Ethnicity: African-American men are 60 to 70% more at risk for prostate cancer than other ethnicities and are twice as likely to die from it if left untreated. Hispanics have a lower than average risk of diagnosis but that by no means clears them of any risk.
- Heredity: Regardless of ethnicity prostate cancer studies do show an inherited or genetic presence as it tends to run in some families. Men with a relative that has had prostate cancer such as a brother or father are at a much higher risk.
YOU NEED TO GET YEARLY PROSTATE EXAMS AFTER 40
You always hear Dr. Cornell on his radio show mentioning PSA tests. Using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, your doctor can monitor you yearly for prostate cancer cell development. Dr. Cornell recommends going a step further and getting a digital rectal exam (DRE). The PSA alone is a good test but the DRE works in tandem with a PSA to paint a much clearer picture of your prostate. If caught early, prostate cancer will have minimal impact in most cases and you can live a full and healthy life. The process for both tests is painless, with a DRE only giving minor discomfort during the procedure. The benefit far outweighs that minor inconvenience once a year.
SYMPTOMS AND DETECTION
The problem with prostate cancer is there are rarely detectable signs early on, so if you begin to see these symptoms it is likely the cancer has already progressed. Yet just another reason Dr. Cornell is a strong advocate for yearly PSA and DRE exams. Symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Urination Problems — Urine flow may be slow or weak, and you may feel the need to urinate often or have bouts of incontinence.
- Blood in urine
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pain in the hips, spine and chest/ribs, and potentially other areas if cancer has spread to the bones
- Weakness or numbness in the legs and feet
These symptoms may also be due to another medical condition so do not be alarmed, the best course of action is always to see your physician for a proper diagnosis and exam.
REDUCING YOUR RISK
While you can’t eliminate the risk of prostate cancer you can reduce it and make some lifestyle and diet adjustments that will not only reduce risk but improve your overall health in the process.
- Maintain a proper weight and BMI
- Reduce red meat and dairy consumption
- Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits, specifically antioxidant-laden
- Consume more fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Avoid smoking tobacco or anything else.
- Communicate regularly with your doctor.
BE PROACTIVE, NOT INACTIVE
If you have a question about prostate cancer and prevention and you are over 40, the first step is to get up and make an appointment for your PSA and DRE exam with Dr. Cornell. Be proactive with your health!