Often the doctor can not explain why one person develops prostate cancer and another does not. However, research shows that certain risk factors increase a person’s likelihood of developing this type of cancer. Overall, the most common risk factors for prostate cancer are given below.
The following risk factors for prostate cancer have been studied:
- Age: Age is the most important risk factor for prostate cancer. This disease is rare in men younger than 45 years, although the probability increases exponentially with advancing age. Most men with prostate cancer are over 65 years old.
- Family history: The risk of a man having prostate cancer, is higher than the average if his father or brother had the disease.
- Race: Prostate cancer is more common in black men than in white (Caucasian) men, including white Hispanic men. It is less common among Asian men and Native Americans.
- Certain prostate changes: presenting abnormal cells, called high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia, may increase the risk of prostate cancer. These prostate cells look abnormal when viewed under a microscope.
- Diet: Some studies suggest that men who eat a diet high in animal fat, or in meat, may be at increased risk of having prostate cancer. Similarly, men who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may have a lower risk.
- The researchers investigated whether obesity, smoking, sexually transmitted viruses or lack of exercise may increase the risk of prostate cancer. So far, they do not appear to be major risk factors. Most studies also found no increased risk of prostate cancer in men who had a vasectomy (a surgery to cut or seal the tubes through which sperm exits the testicles).
Many men with known risk factors do not suffer from prostate cancer. On the other hand, many of those who suffer from this disease do not have any of these risk factors (in addition to being over 65 years).
If you think you may be at increased risk for prostate cancer, you should discuss this concern with your doctor; you can learn how to reduce your risk and what will be the ideal time to take regular exams.
Generally, symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Urinary problems.
- Inability to urinate, or difficulty in starting or stopping the flow of urine.
- Frequent urination, especially at night.
- Poor or intermittent urine flow.
- Pain or burning during urination.
- Difficulty having an erection.
- Blood in urine or semen.
- Frequent pain in the lower back, hips or upper thigh area.
In most cases, these symptoms are not related to prostate cancer, and may still be caused by benign tumors or other problems. Only the doctor can confirm. Anyone with these symptoms, or any other relevant health changes, should consult the doctor to diagnose and treat the problem as early as possible.
Generally, the early stages of cancer do not cause pain. If you have these symptoms, do not wait until you have pain to see your doctor.
Prostate Cancer: Forms of Detection
Before any symptoms develop, screening can be done for the male population. Although studies have so far failed to show that screening tests reduce the number of deaths from prostate cancer, you may want to talk to your doctor about the possible benefits and risks of screening for this disease. The decision to do the screening is personal. Each person should decide about the pros and cons of the screening, after being properly informed.
Your doctor can give you additional information about these screening exams:
Rectal (digital) examination: After putting on gloves, the doctor inserts a lubricated finger into the rectum, and palpates the prostate through the rectal wall to check for hard or granular areas.
Clinical analysis for prostate-specific antigen: A laboratory analysis shows the level of PSA in a human blood sample. A high level of PSA is usually caused by prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate). It can also result from prostate cancer.
The rectal examination and the PSA test can be used to detect problems in the prostate, but they do not show if it is a cancer or another less serious problem. The doctor will use the results of these tests to help decide whether to continue to look for signs of cancer or not.
The Treatment Of Prostate Cancer
Many people with prostate cancer want to know as much information as possible about their disease and treatment methods; want to participate in decisions about their health and medical care they need. Knowing more about the disease helps to collaborate and react positively.
The shock and stress that follow a diagnosis of cancer can make it difficult to think of all the questions and doubts you want to clarify with your doctor. Often, it is helpful to prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor before your appointment.
The doctor can advise the consultation with a specialist doctor. The cancer can be treated by different specialists, such as: urologist, oncologist and radiotherapist. You may have a different medical specialist for each type of treatment you are going to do.
Treatment usually begins a few weeks after the diagnosis of prostate cancer. As a general rule, you have time to talk to your doctor about treatment options and, if you feel it necessary, listen to a second opinion to learn more about your cancer before making any treatment decisions.
Listen A Second Opinion
Before you start treatment, you may want to hear a second opinion about diagnosis and treatment options. You may need some time and extra effort to put together all medical records (imaging, biopsy slides, pathology report and proposed treatment plan) and make an appointment with another doctor. In general, even if it takes a few weeks, until you hear a second opinion, treatment does not become less effective. However, there are situations where immediate treatment is needed; it is important to mention this possible delay to the physician.
In oncology centers, many medical specialists often work together to form a multidisciplinary team.
Preparation for Treatment
For each case of prostate cancer, the doctor will develop a plan of treatments that meets the specific needs of each person. The treatment of prostate cancer depends mainly on the stage of the disease, the degree of the tumor, the symptoms presented and the general health of the person. The doctor may talk to you about possible treatment choices and expected results, taking into account the expected benefits and possible side effects of each option, especially those affecting sexual activity and urination, as well as any other affecting the quality of life of the person.
Before starting treatment, you may want to ask your doctor some questions:
What is the stage of the disease?
What is the degree of the tumor?
What are my treatment choices? Which one do you recommend? Because?
What are the expected benefits of each type of treatment?
What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment? How can side effects be controlled?
How will the treatment affect my normal activities? Will it affect my sex life? Will I have urinary problems again? Will I have bowel problems again?
How much will the treatment cost? Is this treatment covered by my insurance?
Will participation in a clinical trial (research study) be indicated for me?
You do not have to ask all the questions at once; you will have other opportunities, to ask the doctor to explain the information that was not clear, and ask for further clarification.
Prostate Cancer: Treatment Methods
Treatment of prostate cancer may involve surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy (hormone therapy), chemotherapy or just observation. You can do combination therapy. If the doctor recommends that the person is only observed, his or her health will be carefully monitored, and will only be treated if symptoms appear or if they become worse.
At any stage of the disease, the person with prostate cancer can take medication to treat and control pain and other symptoms, to alleviate the side effects of treatment and to alleviate any emotional problems. These treatments are called supportive care, symptom control or palliative care.
You may also want to talk to your doctor about being able to take part in a clinical trial, that is, a research study of new treatment methods.
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