As men age, their risk of developing prostate cancer increases. That’s why studies show prostate cancer is most common in, but not exclusive to, men older than 65.
“Studies tell us that age, family history and race — especially if you’re African American — strongly influence your chances of developing prostate cancer,” said Dr. Kirk Tamaddon, area medical director and chief of staff, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Service area.
“Although most common in men above age 50, men of a younger age can also get prostate cancer, which is why it’s important to discuss testing and examination for prostate cancer with your doctor. This is especially true since typically there are no symptoms in the early stages of prostate cancer and, as is the case with other types of cancers, treatment works best with early diagnosis.”
September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about prostate cancer and generate support for those affected by the disease.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s also one of the leading causes of cancer death among men of all races. In fact, out of every 100 American men, about 13 will get prostate cancer during their lifetime, and about two to three men will die from prostate cancer.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control. Because it often grows slowly, it can take years for the prostate to grow large enough to cause health problems. “Most men are unaware they have prostate cancer until it’s detected during Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test screening or a regular medical exam,” Tamaddon said. “Difficulty with urination is not always a sign of prostate cancer, but a good reason to start the conversation with your doctor about prostate cancer screening.”
Dr. Tamaddon urges men to see their doctor for a prostate check-up if they:
— Are aged 50 or older.
— Have a family history of prostate cancer (especially father or brother).
— Have frequent urination, especially at night.
— Experience pain or burning during urination.
— Are unable to urinate at all.
— See blood in their urine or semen.
— Have deep or frequent pain in their lower back, stomach, hip or pelvis.
There are actions you can take to reduce or delay the risk of developing prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, men should:
— Eat healthy: Eat mostly plant-based food and less animal products (meat, dairy). Eat at least 2 1/2 cups of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day, including cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, which are linked to lowering the risk of prostate cancer.
— Be physically active: Heart-healthy is prostate-healthy. Men who are physically active have a slightly reduced risk of developing prostate cancer and have reduced chances of heart disease.
— Stay at a healthy weight: Though the connection to weight is unclear, men who are overweight have a higher risk of developing terminal prostate cancer.
“When it comes to prostate cancer screenings, I encourage men with a family history and men above age 50 to open a discussion with their doctor during their routine annual physical,” Tamaddon said. “The reason is that early detection and treatment can be the difference between severe illness and a full recovery.”