192,000. Nearly the population of Grand Rapids, Michigan. That is how many cases of prostate cancer are expected to be diagnosed 2020 – up from 175,000 in 2019.
We have the ability to reverse course, starting today. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, when all men and the people who care about them should take time to learn about the walnut-sized gland and the symptoms of this fairly common disease.
So let’s do that. Following is the latest research into prostate cancer development, with four of our own tips for reducing the risks.
The Faster the Prostate Grows, the Higher the Chances
For background, it’s helpful to know that the prostate, located between the bladder and the penis, begins a continuous period of growth at around the time a man turns 25. The rate of this growth could contribute to the risk of cancer, because when the prostate grows, its cells divide.
When a cell divides, it must copy its DNA – and sometimes it does so imperfectly. If the DNA in these new cells is defective, then the cells will grow abnormally and could form a tumor.
Just 10% of prostate cancers are thought to result from inherited gene changes,according to the American Cancer Society, which means the lion’s share are developed during a man’s lifetime. Of those lifetimes, one in nine men will be diagnosed at some time. The average age of prostate cancer diagnosis is 66.
Not all men are average, however, which is why men of all ages should be aware of the symptoms.
4 Easy Ways to Improve Prostate Health
Prostate cancer is highly treatable, so knowing the symptoms is among the easiest, best ways to outlive it. If caught early, the disease has a five-year survival rate of 98%.
Here’s how to spot those symptoms and other preventative measures.
- Pay attention when peeing. The key symptoms of prostate cancer can be detected during urination. Burning, blood in the urine and difficult or frequent urination (especially at night) are all telltale signs. Another symptom is pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.
- Steer clear of cigarettes and their smoke. It’s simple: Studies show prostate cancer patients who smoke suffer from higher mortality rates. Patients who have never smoked, or have not smoked for at least 10 years prior to diagnosis, have higher survival rates.
- Understand what hormones can do. Male hormones such as testosterone support prostate cell growth, so higher levels could contribute to cancer risk. Research on this possibility is still underway, but consult your doctor before taking hormones or if your body displays signs of elevated hormone growth, such as swollen feet or acne.
- Get tested regularly. All men 50 and older (and younger men in the high-risk category) should undergo an annual prostate exam. This can include a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test, which could detect prostate cancer development in its early stages. Research suggests that putting off a PSA test has contributed to an increase in advanced prostate cancer cases.
Lastly, talk about prostate cancer, and prostate health. There’s a good chance most men you know will be eager to take up the conversation. And if there are any questions, call your urologist. We continually examine the latest opportunities in prostate cancer detection, treatments and prevention.