Prostate cancer is the number one cancer among men in North America. While it rarely affects men under the age of 50, you might still be at risk if you live an unhealthy lifestyle or if there is a history of it in your family. There is no one single cause of prostate cancer, but there are several risk factors.
The main risk factor is age. 80% of men over the age of 80 get cancer of the prostate. If you are overweight or obese, smoke, drink more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day or have a family history of prostate cancer, then you are at increased risk. Speak with your doctor about the risk factors for prostate cancer since eliminating or reducing those risks can decrease your chance of getting the disease. You may not be able to do anything about ageing and family history, but there are definite lifestyle changes you can make that will reduce the risk.
Your doctor will recommend testing for prostate cancer if you are over the age of 50, or over the age of 40 with higher risk factors. Testing can include a digital rectal examination and/or a prostate-specific antigen test. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should request testing. Early detection is key in curing cancer of the prostate.
-the need to urinate frequently, particularly at night
-an urgent need to urinate (regularly – not one time)
-the inability to urinate
-a decrease in the stream of urine or interrupted stream
-the feeling that the bladder has not emptied after urination
-blood in the urine
-blood in semen
-ejaculation that is painful
If you have any of these prostate cancer symptoms, speak to your doctor about testing. Presence of these symptoms does not mean you have cancer of the prostate – these symptoms can also arise with other health problems as well, but should still be addressed as soon as possible.
Speak to your doctor about the tests you should have, along with the pros and cons and cost of each. Find out what your risks are for contracting the disease and then find out how often you should be tested. The sooner you begin testing, the sooner you can begin treatment if you are diagnosed positively. The good news is that prostate cancer is highly curable in the early stages. In the latter stages, there are few treatment options and less chance of cure.
If tests indicate that cancer tumours exist, you will have to consider your treatment options including traditional treatments like surgery and radiation. There are also newer prostate cancer treatments like HIFU, that offer similar cure rates with fewer significant side effects. HIFU uses High Intensity Focused Ultrasound to destroy cancer tumors. It is a non-surgical, non-invasive treatment appropriate for men with organ confined prostate cancer. Speak to your physician about all of your treatment options and decide which one is the best for your age, health and stage of cancer.