1 in 36 men will die from prostate cancer
No one has to tell Ted that. Last year he lost his father to prostate cancer
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Ted’s always considered himself a man’s man. He’s a logger in the Pacific Northwest and considers himself the best at what he does. He works with his hands and with is back and he’s proud to put in a day’s work for a day’s pay.
He also likes to brag that he hasn’t been sick a day in his life. So did his father, Ted Sr. until the day he discovered he has prostate cancer. Five months later he was gone.
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, there are cases of aggressive prostate cancers. The cancer cells may metastasize (spread) from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes. Prostate cancer may cause pain, difficulty in urinating, problems during sexual intercourse, or erectile dysfunction. Other symptoms can potentially develop during later stages of the disease.
Rates of detection of prostate cancers vary widely across the world, with South and East Asia detecting less frequently than in Europe, and especially the United States. Prostate cancer tends to develop in men over the age of fifty and although it is one of the most prevalent types of cancer in men, many never have symptoms, undergo no therapy, and eventually die of other causes. This is because cancer of the prostate is, in most cases, slow-growing, symptom-free, and since men with the condition are older they often die of causes unrelated to the prostate cancer, such as heart/circulatory disease, pneumonia, other unconnected cancers, or old age. About 2/3 of cases are slow growing, the other third more aggressive and fast developing.
Many factors, including genetics and diet, have been implicated in the development of prostate cancer. The presence of prostate cancer may be indicated by symptoms, physical examination, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), or biopsy. The PSA test increases cancer detection but does not decrease mortality. Suspected prostate cancer is typically confirmed by taking a biopsy of the prostate and examining it under a microscope. Further tests, such as CT scans and bone scans, may be performed to determine whether prostate cancer has spread.
Treatment options for prostate cancer with intent to cure are primarily surgery, radiation therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, and proton therapy. Other treatments, such as hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, cryosurgery, and high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) also exist, although not FDA approved, depending on the clinical scenario and desired outcome.
The age and underlying health of the man, the extent of metastasis, appearance under the microscope, and response of the cancer to initial treatment are important in determining the outcome of the disease. The decision whether or not to treat localized prostate cancer (a tumor that is contained within the prostate) with curative intent is a patient trade-off between the expected beneficial and harmful effects in terms of patient survival and quality of life.
Prostate cancer screening is an attempt to identify individuals with prostate cancer in a broad segment of the population—those for whom there is no reason to suspect prostate cancer. There are currently two methods used: One is the digital rectal examination (DRE), in which the examiner inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to examine the adjoining prostate. The other is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which measures the concentration of this molecule in the blood.
Screening is controversial. Prostate cancer can develop into a fatal, painful disease, but it can also develop so slowly that it will never cause problems during the man's lifetime. It is difficult for a physician to determine how the cancer will proceed based on the two major types of screening tests currently available. A major consideration for any screening protocol is to weigh up the possibility someone will have needless treatment against saving lives. A 2010 analysis concluded that routine screening with either a DRE or PSA is not supported by the evidence as there is no mortality benefit from screening.
Many doctors argue against PSA testing for men who are in their 70s or older, because even if prostate cancer were detected, most men would be dead of something else before the cancer progressed. Others argue against PSA testing for men who are too young, because too many men would have to be screened to find one cancer, and too many men would have treatment for cancer that would not progress.
A comprehensive worldwide report Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective compiled by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research reports a significant relation between lifestyle (including food consumption) and cancer prevention. Other research also supports this finding. Exercise and diet may help prevent prostate cancer to the same extent as medications such as alpha-blockers and 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. The potential role of diet in preventing prostate cancer is discussed in greater detail in the diet section of this article.
Two medications which block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, finasteride and dutasteride, have also shown some promise. The use of these medications for primary prevention is still in the testing phase, and they are not widely used for this purpose. A 2008 study found that finasteride reduces the incidence of prostate cancer by 30%, without any increase in the risk of High-Grade prostate cancer. In the original study it turns out that the smaller prostate caused by finasteride means that a doctor is more likely to hit upon cancer nests and more likely to find aggressive-looking cells.
Compared to placebo treatment, taking 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs) can reduce a man’s risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer from around 5–9% to around 4-6% during up to 7 years of treatment, according to a Cochrane Review of studies.
More frequent ejaculation also may decrease a man's risk of prostate cancer. One study showed that men who ejaculated 3-5 times a week at the age of 15-19 had a decreased rate of prostate cancer when they are old, though other studies have shown no benefit. The results contradict those of previous studies, which have suggested that having had many sexual partners, or a high frequency of sexual activity, increases the risk of prostate cancer by up to 40 percent. A key difference may be that these earlier studies defined sexual activity as sexual intercourse, whereas this study focused on the number of ejaculations, whether or not intercourse was involved. Another study completed in 2004 reported that "Most categories of ejaculation frequency were unrelated to risk of prostate cancer. However, high ejaculation frequency was related to decreased risk of total prostate cancer." The report abstract concluded, "Our results suggest that ejaculation frequency is not related to increased risk of prostate cancer."
Oils and fatty acids, Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) increased prostate tumor growth, and has sped up histopathological progression, and decreased survival, while the omega-3 fatty acids, in the same situation, had the opposite, beneficial effect.
Men with high serum linoleic acid, but not palmitic, can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by taking tocopherol supplementation.
Men with elevated levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) had lowered incidence.
A long-term study reports that "blood levels of trans fatty acids, in particular trans fats resulting from the hydrogenation of vegetable oils, are associated with an increased prostate cancer risk."
Some researchers have indicated that serum myristic acid and palmitic acid and dietary myristic and palmitic saturated fatty acids and serum palmitic combined with alpha-tocopherol supplementation are associated with increased risk of prostate cancer in a dose-dependent manner. These associations may, however, reflect differences in intake or metabolism of these fatty acids between the precancer cases and controls, rather than being an actual cause.
The American Dietetic Association and Dieticians of Canada report a decreased incidence of prostate cancer for those following a vegetarian diet.
In lab tests on mice, prostate tumors grow slower with a no-carbohydrate diet.
A preliminary study found a correlation between coffee consumption and a lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer. (Content courtesy of Wikipedia)
Let’s face it, men don’t like to go to the doctor. If Ted’s Dad has gone in for a standard screening there’s a good change he’d still be alive today. 1 in 36 men will die of prostate cancer.
Don’t you be the 1!
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