According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prostate cancer is now the second most common cancer among men in the United States. The risk of developing prostate cancer progressively increases with age, and while it’s rare before the age of 40, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer within their lifetimes.
There is some good news as it pertains to the prevention and survival rates related to this particular form of cancer.
“While it’s most certainly a serious disease, it’s important to know that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do NOT die from it,” said Dr. Axel Anderson, board-certified Urologist with St. Cloud Medical Group, “In fact, nearly 3 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point, are still alive today.”
There are certain groups of people at higher risk – both for being diagnosed with, and dying from, prostate cancer. They include:
- Race and Ethnicity. Prostate cancer is more common in African-American men and in Caribbean men of African ancestry, than in men of other races. These men are also more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. Reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are not clear.
- Family History. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease. The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young when the cancer was found.
Interestingly, studies have not shown a clear link between certain lifestyle and dietary factors and the occurrence of prostate cancer. However, there is recent evidence that certain food choices may be directly related to reducing the risk of cancer in men. Some good choices are:
- Tomatoes and other red foods. Tomatoes, watermelon and other red foods owe their bright color to a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, and studies show men who consume it regularly have a lower incidence of prostate cancer.
- Coffee! Several studies over three decades suggest that a serious coffee habit is linked to a lower risk of fatal prostate cancer. Drinking an average of three cups of coffee a day is estimated to reduce your risk of fatal prostate cancer by more than 10 percent, but the benefits may not extend to those who are only occasional coffee drinkers.
- Good fats. Studies show a general link between animal fats and an increased risk of all cancers. Whenever possible, replace animal-based fats with plant-based fats, including olive oil instead of butter, nuts or seeds instead of cheese, and avocados or olives instead of packaged snacks. Also, overcooking meats produces carcinogens, so be careful not to grill or broil your meat to well done.
Much attention has been given to prostate screenings in recent years. New guidelines were posted in April of this year by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), reinforcing the conclusion that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings lead to only small potential reductions in the risk of dying of prostate cancer, in men ages 55 to 69. Conversely, the annual screenings expose these men to possible overtreatment and side effects from biopsies, radiation and surgery.
Does that mean you should avoid screening altogether? Not necessarily.
“Prostate screenings can be a slippery slope, as the best path of treatment for a prostate cancer diagnosis is sometimes just observation,” said Dr. Anderson. “Many of these tumors are slow-growing, and the men will die many years later of something else entirely. But the stress of a positive diagnosis can lead patients to overreact and over-treat, leading to unnecessary side effects.”
Work with your doctor to define a screening plan for prostate health, especially if you fall into one of the high-risk categories, or are experiencing any urinary or sexual dysfunction symptoms. If you need to be connected to a physician who specializes in prostate health, contact St. Cloud Medical Group Urology at 407-891-2951 or visit StCloudPhysicians.com.