According to the National Cancer Institute, it is estimated that 233,000 men in the U.S. will be newly diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system, located below the bladder that surrounds the urethra. It is about the size of a walnut and makes fluid that is part of semen. While prostate cancer can affect men of all ages, it is one of the most common forms of cancer in men over the age of 60. Knowing more about the signs and symptoms of this disease can help all men lead healthy and active lifestyles. Below are facts and figures about prostate cancer prevention, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
Prostate Cancer Prevention
While genetics have a major influence in the development of prostate cancer, leading an overall healthy lifestyle will help reduce your risk. Other preventative measures include avoiding risk factors such as smoking, being overweight and not getting enough exercise. Studies have shown that folate, a type of vitamin B, can help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. Folate is man-made and found in fortified foods like green vegetables, beans and orange juice. Another preventative method is the use of drugs finasteride and dutasteride. These pharmaceuticals lower male sex hormones and prevent testosterone from changing into DHT. Studies have shown that high levels of DHT may cause prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of prostate cancer align with common symptoms of other conditions. It is important to consult a medical professional if you are experiencing any of the below symptoms. Common signs of prostate cancer include:
- Weak or “stop and go” flow of urine
- Sudden urges to urinate
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Trouble starting the flow of urination
- Trouble emptying bladder
- Painful urination or burning sensations while urinating
- Blood in urine or semen
- Back, pelvis or hip pain that persists
- Shortness of breath, lethargy, rapid heartbeat, dizziness or pale skin from anemia
The condition benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) occurs when the prostate enlarges as men age. The symptoms of BHP are similar to prostate cancer. While this situation may require surgery, it is not a form of cancer.
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
Several tests are available to discover and diagnose prostate cancer. The most common and frequently used method is the physical exam. Regular visits to your healthcare provider will help you lead a healthy lifestyle and increase your chances of catching serious problems before they become dangerous. Other methods to diagnose prostate cancer include:
- Digital rectal exam (DRE)
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
- Transrectal ultrasound
- Transrectal MRI
Prostate Cancer Treatment
The good news is that most men will recover after treatment of prostate cancer. There are many treatment options for men with prostate cancer:
- Active Surveillance - This method closely watches for signs that the cancer might be growing or changing. Prostate cancer can grow slowly and may not become a problem during a man’s lifetime. By the age of 80, more than half of all men have developed some cancer in their prostate.
- Surgery - For cancer that is developing at a faster pace, several surgeries are available to remove the prostate. UnityPoint Health – Urology Clinic is here to help patients who find surgery is the right choice in treating prostate cancer.
- Radiation Therapy – Depending on each case of prostate cancer, radiation therapy may be a treatment option. The therapy uses high doses of radiation energy to treat the cancer. To learn more about radiation treatment options, Finley’s Wendt Regional Cancer Center is here to help.
Many factors can affect treatment options for different men. These include the stage of the cancer, the age of the patient, if the cancer has recurred, treatment side effects, past prostate treatment and the patient’s wishes.
Recovering from Prostate Cancer
Depending on the stage of your cancer and your treatment methods, recovering after prostate cancer can take on many forms. It will take time to adjust to daily life. You may think differently of yourself and others may see you differently as well. After some time, you will develop a new normal. It is important to receive follow-up care and address any concerns with your doctor.
It is estimated that 29,480 men will die from prostate cancer this year. Educate yourself by learning more about prostate cancer care from Finley Hospital. For additional resources about getting tested for prostate cancer, visit the American Cancer Society’s guide to Testing for Prostate Cancer.