September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month so all month long, we’ll be providing you with resources and information on screening, treatment, risk factors and symptoms.
What is prostate cancer?
The prostate gland, which is only in men, is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Throughout a man’s life, the size of the prostate changes. In young men, the gland is roughly the size of a walnut, but as men age, it can grow much larger.
Prostate cancer starts when cells in the gland begin to grow uncontrollably. Nearly all prostate cancer is adenocarcinoma, which develops in the cells of the gland. However, there are other—more rare—forms of prostate cancer. They include sarcoma, small cell carcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors and transitional cell carcinomas.
Prostate cancer is considered a slow growing cancer.
What are your risk factors?
The single biggest risk factor for prostate cancer is age. The older men get, the higher their risk of getting prostate cancer gets. Your risk is also greater is you have a brother or father who had prostate cancer—research shows that if you’ve had a brother with prostate cancer, your risk is higher than if you father had it.
According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence of prostate cancer is higher in African American men.
How to prevent prostate cancer?
If you look at 10 websites, you will likely get 10 answers about ways you can prevent prostate cancer. But here is the reality—you can’t stop the aging process (unless you’ve found the fountain of youth) and you can’t change your ethnicity. Therefore, the best thing you can do to limit your risk of developing prostate cancer is to choose a healthy lifestyle:
- Eat healthy
- Keep your weight down
- Exercise regularly
In many cases, there are no symptoms of prostate cancer in the early stages, thus regular screening, especially if you have any of the risk factors, is important. One of the easiest ways to get tested is through a simple blood test called a PSA or prostate-specific antigen. The test measures the amount of protein released into the blood by the prostate. The higher the test result, the more likely you are to have prostate cancer.
Talk to you healthcare provider
The single most important thing you can do to prevent prostate cancer is to talk regularly to your healthcare provider. You should discuss the overall risks and benefits of screening and talk about your personal risk factors of developing prostate cancer.