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Prostate Cancer: Here’s What You Need To Know

Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. In the United States, thirteen out of 100 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer [1] in their lifetime. Despite its prevalence, many men are unaware of the risks and symptoms of prostate cancer. This blog post will outline critical facts you need to know.

What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate begin to grow excessively. The prostate is a gland that produces some of the fluids that make up semen. It is found below the bladder, just in front of the rectum. Additional glands called the seminal vesicles are located close to the prostate. This is where the rest of the seminal fluid is produced. The urethra runs through the middle of the prostate, connecting it to the seminal vesicle.

Who is Susceptible to Prostate Cancer?

All men are susceptible to prostate cancer. Since the prostate gland is only found in males, women cannot get prostate cancer.

What Are The Risk Factors Involved?

Some factors can increase a man’s likeliness of developing prostate cancer. One of the most common factors is age. As a man ages, his risk of getting prostate cancer goes up. Research also suggests that African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer [1] [7] than other races. Genetics can also play into one’s risk of developing prostate cancer. If there is a prominent family history of prostate cancer [1], the risk of developing prostate cancer increases significantly.

Detection and Diagnosis

Early Detection

Early detection is essential for receiving effective treatment for (prostate) cancer. Thankfully, a series of tests can be performed to catch prostate cancer early so that the proper treatment regimen can be established. When prostate cancer is detected in its early stages, it is more likely to be cured, and treatment will have less severe side effects for patients. The treatment will also be less expensive, reducing the financial strain associated with recovery.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If an abnormality has been detected in your prostate screening process, your doctor will likely recommend subsequent tests to detect prostate cancer.

These tests may include the following:

  • Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • Biopsy (Gathering prostate tissue samples)

If your doctor determines that you have prostate cancer, the next step is to identify how aggressive the cancer cells are. This is also known as staging [2]. To do this, a doctor will carefully examine your cancer cells. After they assign your cancer a grade of aggressiveness, your doctors can prescribe a treatment that is right for you.

There are many different types of treatment for prostate cancer, depending on how aggressive the case is. Here are some of the most common treatment methods:

  • Surgery (prostatectomy)
  • Radiation Therapy (external or internal)
  • Cryotherapy (freeze and kill cancer cells)
  • Hormone Treatments [3]
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy [4]
  • Targeted Treatments [5]

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test

Regarding prostate cancer screening, the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test is the number one option. PSA screening is essential for catching the disease in its earliest stages. The earlier you detect prostate cancer, the more effective the treatment will be. It can also minimize the potential side effects of treatment.

What is The PSA Test?

The PSA test measures the amount of Prostate-Specific Antigen in your bloodstream. This is a protein that is produced by your prostate. In most cases, higher levels of PSA can result in a heightened risk of prostate cancer. For that reason, the PSA test is one of the primary indicators of prostate cancer, but it isn’t the only thing to consider when determining your risk.

Although the PSA test is still the leading screening method for prostate cancer, it is considered controversial [6] in the medical world. This is because it has led to the overdiagnosis and overtreatment of prostate cancer in men who did not actually have the disease. For that reason, it is essential to consider the results of the PSA test in combination with other individual risk factors.

How is The PSA Test Performed?

To perform a PSA test, your doctor will extract a small amount of blood from your arm and measure your levels of PSA, which is a protein that the prostate produces. The higher the PSA is, the higher your chances of prostate cancer. Although a PSA of three to four was traditionally seen as the threshold between normal and abnormal levels, experts now understand that it is far more complicated. For example, a high PSA level does not always determine that someone has prostate cancer.

To accurately evaluate your PSA levels, your doctor must consider several things. The most important factors include age, health conditions, and results of any previous PSA tests that you’ve had.

Your doctor will also look for the following:

  • Size of prostate
  • Inflamed prostate
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
  • UTI or irritation while urinating
  • Over-stimulated prostate
  • Side-effects of medications

Maintaining Prostate Health

The good news is that plenty of lifestyle adjustments can help reduce your prostate cancer risk. Here are a few of the best things you can do to boost the overall health of your prostate:

Diet Changes

  • Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your daily diet
  • Eat more whole grains
  • Reduce red meat in your diet and replace it with healthy, lean protein
  • Include healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts
  • Avoid foods and drinks with added sugar
  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Eat reasonable portion sizes

Activity Changes

  • Engage in some physical activity daily
  • Exercise vigorously at least three times per week
  • Maintain a healthy BMI

Harry S. Cohen & Associates

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[1] Prostate Cancer > Who is at Risk for Prostate Cancer?
Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Aug. 25, 2022

[2] Prostate Cancer Stages
[3] Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer
[4] Immunotherapy for Prostate Cancer
[5] Targeted Therapy for Prostate Cancer
American Cancer Society

[6] Prostate-specific antigen-based screening: controversy and guidelines
National Library of Medicine - March 24, 2015

[7] African American Men More Likely to Die from Low-Grade Prostate Cancer
National Cancer Institute - Jan. 28, 2019