The chance of getting prostate cancer is a one in seven chance. It can develop anytime during your life time. Although prostate cancer is treatable, you can avoid suffering its symptoms with early diagnosis.
Unfortunately, prostate cancer has no early warning signals. However, many men have symptoms that do point to problems with the prostate gland. Learn what to watch for and when it’s time to call your doctor.
Signs of prostate cancer
While most cases of prostate cancer does not cause serious health problems, a small percentage of them can be very serious. The most common problems in men with serious prostate cancer are shown when you urinate. Look for signs of:
The signs and symptoms of prostate cancer can also be caused by other health conditions. It is important to have any unusual symptoms checked by a doctor.
Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer are:
- Changes in bladder habits, such as you need to urinate often, especially at night;
- Intense need to urinate;
- Difficulty in starting or stopping the urine flow;
- Inability to urinate;
- Weak or decreased urine stream;
- Interrupted urine stream;
- A sense of incompletely emptying the bladder;
- Burning or pain during urination;
- Blood in the urine or semen (a condition known as hematuria);
- Painful ejaculation.
Late signs and symptoms occur as the cancer grows larger or spreads to other parts of the body, including other organs.
- Bone pain (especially in the back, hips, thighs or neck);
- Weight loss;
- Low red blood cell count (anemia);
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet;
- Loss of bladder or bowel.
Other than looking for signs of prostate cancer, you should have frequent cancer exam test. If cancer is suspected, the healthcare team will confirm if your tumor is present or not, and what type of cancer it is. The process of diagnosis may seem long and frustrating, but it is important for the doctor to rule out other possible reasons for a health problem before making a cancer diagnosis.
Diagnosis of prostate cancer involves:
- Medical history and physical examination: you doctor will look for signs of prostate cancer, as well as ask about your family history.
- A digital rectal examination (DRE): the doctor places a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland through the wall of the rectum.
- A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is done to measure the level of PSA – a protein made by the prostate.
- A transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) uses an ultrasound probe placed into the rectum to make images of the prostate.
- A biopsy is used to diagnose prostate cancer. A prostate biopsy may be done if an abnormality was found during a DRE or transrectal ultrasound. It may also be done if the PSA level was high for a man’s age or has increased over time or rapidly.
- A complete blood count (CBC) measures the number and quality of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.
- Blood chemistry tests measure certain chemicals in the blood. They show how well certain organs are functioning and can also be used to detect abnormalities.
- A bone scan uses bone-seeking radioactive materials (radiopharmaceuticals) and a computer to create a picture of the bones to see if the prostate cancer has spread to the bones.
How to prevent prostate cancer
Prostate cancer can be prevented with good lifestyle choices. Choose a low-fat diet. Foods that contain fats include meats, nuts, oils and dairy products, such as milk and cheese.
Eat more fat from plants than from animals. In studies that looked at fat consumption and prostate cancer risk, fats from animals were most likely to be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Animal products that contain fats include meat, lard and butter.
Eat fish. Fatty fish – such as salmon, tuna and herring – contain omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fatty acid that has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. If you don’t currently eat fish, you might consider adding it to your diet. Another way to add omega-3s to your diet is by eating flaxseed.
Reduce the amount of dairy products you eat each day. In studies, men who ate the most dairy products – such as milk, cheese and yogurt – each day had the highest risk of prostate cancer. But study results have been mixed, and the risk associated with dairy products is thought to be small.
If you have a healthy weight, work to maintain it by exercising most days of the week and choosing a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Exercise can help you maintain your weight, or it can help you lose weight.
Studies of exercise and prostate cancer risk have mostly shown that men who exercise may have a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Moreover, exercise has many other health benefits and may reduce your risk of heart disease and other cancers.
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