Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men following skin cancer, and is a leading cause of death. Approximately 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. While there are many risk factors that can not be controlled (such as age, race, and family history) there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer.
In this article, we will discuss the diagnosis procedure for prostate cancer and prevention tips.
The American Urological Association (AUA) recommends prostate cancer screening in men starting at age 55-69, and starting sooner in those with risk factors. These risk factors include African American race, family history etc. Additionally, many experts in the field recommend earlier screening for all men, as the maximum benefit of screening is derived by younger men.
This is an uncomfortable subject for many men, but the truth is that it is better to experience discomfort now than to be diagnosed when it is too late. There are two main ways that doctors combine to screen for prostate cancer:
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
This is what many men picture when thinking of a prostate screening. To perform a DRE, a doctor will use their finger to feel around inside of the rectum for any abnormalities in the shape, size, or texture of the prostate. Although it sounds uncomfortable; It generally takes fewer than 10 seconds to perform and has minimal pain or discomfort associated with it.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test
PSA is a substance that is found in the blood and is naturally produced by the prostate gland. With this test, doctors are looking for abnormally high levels of PSA in the bloodstream. This involves taking a blood sample from a vein in the patient’s arm and measuring PSA levels.
If the initial screening raises any red flags, your doctor may decide to administer additional tests to be certain if cancer is present. Most commonly, doctors will perform an ultrasound to map and visualize your prostate gland, and then obtain a tissue biopsy at the same time.
This involves inserting a thin needle into the prostate and removing a small portion of tissue which will be tested for cancer cells.
In certain situations when the tests are unclear, additional blood testing, genetic markers testing, and imaging such as MRI may be undertaken.
As mentioned earlier, you can not control certain factors that may put you at risk for prostate cancer, but there are some lifestyle habits you can adopt for prevention, early diagnosis, and an overall healthy life.
The most significant thing you can do is to maintain a healthy, and active lifestyle. Doctors recommend eating at least 2 ½ cups of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) a day along with exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight.
There are many studies available that recommend avoiding soy; however, there has not been conclusive evidence to prove this is a useful method to prevent prostate cancer. Similarly, there is no conclusive evidence that vitamin E or selenium affect prostate cancer.
In fact, there are not any secret supplements or vitamins that will magically prevent prostate cancer because many of the factors are genetic. The best advice is to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle and to go in for a checkup at least once a year after reaching your 50s.