Did you know September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month? In designating a whole month for prostate cancer, we can increase awareness throughout our communities for the purpose of education. With knowledge comes power, and with power comes responsibility. The more we become educated in fighting a disease, the more we can reduce the number of those affected by the said disease. Today we’re going to discuss prostate cancer as a whole; the symptoms, causes, risk factors, and tips for prevention.
September: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate. It’s one of the most common types of cancer in American men (second to lung cancer). According to Alliance Cancer Center, “About one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Some types of prostate cancers grow slowly and don’t need treatment while others grow at a rapid pace. The most important thing is to catch it early so it does not spread if it does happen to be a more aggressive type.
In the early stages of prostate cancer, there may be no signs or symptoms of it whatsoever. However, if the cancer is in its more advanced stages, the symptoms may show up as trouble with urination, blood in the urine or semen, bone pain, weight loss, and erectile dysfunction. If you or a loved one has noticed any of these signs or symptoms, it’s crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible.
The causes of this cancer are still not entirely clear. What doctors do know is that it occurs when prostate cells begin to have changes in their DNA. Any abnormal cells that are accumulated will form a tumor. They can affect nearby tissue and continue to spread throughout the body.
There seem to be some risk factors when it comes to prostate cancer. These include older age, certain races, family history, and obesity. This type of cancer is most common in men over 50. It also seems to affect black people more so than any other race. However, the reason behind this is still unclear. If this cancer has been present in your bloodline, there’s a likelihood that you may develop it as well. And finally, if you are obese, cancer tends to be more on the aggressive side.
There are two main types of methods that are used to screen for prostate cancer; a blood test called prostate-specific antigen test (or a PSA test) and a digital rectal examination. According to the CDC, “This test measures the level of PSA in your blood. Your PSA level may be high if you have prostate cancer and for many other reasons, such as having an enlarged prostate, a prostate infection, or taking certain medicines.” A digital rectal examination involves a health care provider feeling the prostate for anything abnormal. Screening can help prevent the spread of this disease, which will lower the deaths caused by it.
There are many preventative measures to take to reduce your risk for prostate cancer. According to Mayo Clinic, some of these include a diet full of fruits and veggies, whole foods over supplements, adequate exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and having a conversation with your doctor. Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet will provide you the nutrients to fight off any diseases. Because we still don’t have a ton of research surrounding supplements, it’s often a better option to opt for whole foods. Additionally, exercising consistently will improve your mental and physical health overall. Finally, if you happen to be at high risk for prostate cancer, you may want to have a discussion with your doctor about certain medications or treatments that may reduce your likelihood.
Additional Reading: Prostate Cancer Awareness
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