A prostate cancer diagnosis can quickly turn life upside-down—not only for the affected patient but for the family, as well. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men, according to the American Cancer Society. However, it is also highly treatable. The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) reports that when cancer is detected in local or regional stages, nearly 100% of patients will be free of the disease after five years. Every September, initiatives like Prostate Cancer Awareness Month help to educate the community and highlight important signs and symptoms. It’s also a perfect time to assess your risk factors, schedule a prostate screening, and take the “temperature” on your overall health.
Age: As men age, their risk of prostate cancer increases. According to PCF, 1 in 38 men between the ages of 40 and 59 will be diagnosed with the disease. For men ages 60 to 69, the diagnosis rate grows to 1 in 14 men. While prostate cancer can develop in men under the age of 40, 97% of all prostate cancer cases arise in men 50 years of age and older. Talk to your health care provider about the right time to receive an early-detection screening for you or someone you love. Most physicians recommend a screening between the ages of 40 and 50, depending on specific risk factors. Being proactive and scheduling a screening today can lead to a brighter prognosis tomorrow.
Family History: Research from PCF indicates that prostate cancer holds a genetic dynamic. Over time, normal prostate cells can morph into abnormal cancerous cells through mutations. Abnormal cells separate and grow more quickly than normal cells, creating tumors. Studies suggest these alterations within the cell can be inherited or developed over time. Men who have a brother or father with prostate cancer have a doubled risk of developing the disease. Those who have a long family history of prostate cancer are considered to have an even higher risk. It’s important to mention family-related cancer history to your doctor, so you can develop a prostate health plan together.
Additional Risk Factors: Race and geographical location are also considered risk factors for developing prostate cancer. According to PCF, African American men have a 56% greater chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, when compared with Caucasian men, and are more likely to develop aggressive forms of prostate cancer. African American men are nearly 2.5 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than Caucasian men. Additional research shows that your home address could make you more susceptible to developing prostate cancer as well. American men, who live north of 40 degrees latitude, in states like Ohio and Utah, have the highest risk of developing terminal prostate cancer.
While you can’t change hereditary risk factors, you can try to maintain a healthy weight, eat a nutritious diet, and exercise to reduce your risk or slow the progression of prostate cancer. For those who are among the 2.8 million prostate cancer survivors living in the United States, paying close attention to your dietary habits can help to keep you cancer-free. The Prostate Cancer Foundation urges survivors to avoid processed meats and high-fat dairy options, while loading up on vegetables, including cooked tomatoes, which are rich in lycopene. Visit the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s Patient Support page for comprehensive guides at every stage of prostate cancer.
ZERO, an organization working to end prostate cancer, suggests that survivors find a new normal. Discovering new and exciting hobbies can enrich your life and provide an opportunity to help you adjust to limitations that often develop during cancer treatment.
After treatment, you might not feel like your old self. It’s important to be patient and work slowly toward regaining your strength. South County Physical Therapy, Inc. (SCPT) provides an Oncology Rehabilitation and Lymphedema program, which is designed to help you get back to being you and enjoying the things you love. SCPT will champion you as you continue your journey through recovery and tackle problems commonly faced during cancer survivorship, like loss of joint motion, fatigue, and pain. Since its inception 30 years ago, SCPT has worked with hundreds of cancer survivors, and for each individual, a customized approach has been tailored to their specific goals and challenges.
This September, and all year long, make your health a top priority—for yourself and for your loved ones. Help spread awareness through social media, using the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s hashtag, #manupgetchecked.