If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s important to take an active part in understanding this disease and making informed choices about your course of care. The information in this series of blogs is designed to both educate and provide insight into many of the most asked questions regarding prostate cancer.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is generally asymptomatic, which means that there are no clear symptoms to indicate it. In most cases, symptoms are caused by benign prostatic enlargement (BPE), or an infection. If prostate cancer does cause symptoms it is usually a sign that the disease has advanced. Because of this it is important that you see a doctor to understand what causes the symptoms. Symptoms may include:
- Urinary incontinence
- Blood in the urine
- Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
- Erectile dysfunction
- Difficulty urinating
- Painful or burning urination
- Weak urine flow
What is Active Surveillance?
Active surveillance is a strategy used by many men found to have very low risk prostate cancer. It involves deferring treatment and having regular testing done to monitor the cancer and see if it is becomes more severe. The aim of active surveillance is to delay definitive treatment of prostate cancer in a safe and dependable manner and switch to another treatment if there are signs that the disease is progressing.
How common is prostate cancer?
Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. More than 60 percent of all prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65. The disease rarely occurs in men younger than 40 years of age. The American Cancer Society’s estimates that about 180,890 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States will be reported this year.
Who should be screened for prostate cancer?
This is a somewhat controversial topic. Certain medical groups recommend against screening healthy men for prostate cancer, questioning its benefits and noting its potential harms. While others strongly recommend that all men over age 50 get regular screenings and in addition advise men with certain risk factors be screened at an earlier age. The American Cancer Society recommends talking with your doctor about the issue and deciding together what is best for you as an individual.
Is there anything I can do to prevent prostate cancer?
There is no real way to prevent prostate cancer. However making certain lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy and exercising, can significantly reduce your risk of developing this disease. The American Cancer Society recommends:
- Limiting foods that are high in fat
- Reducing your intake of red meat
- Eating at least 2-1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables each day
- Reduce your consumption of dairy products
- Increase your intake of fish such as salmon
What is metastatic prostate cancer?
Metastatic prostate cancer is caused by cancerous cells that have broken away from the tumor and then travel through the body through either the blood or the lymphatic system. While the cancer has spread into other areas of the body it will still be identified as prostate cancer.