Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that forms in tissues of the prostate. The prostate is a gland found only in males, located in front of the rectum and below the urinary bladder. The size of the prostate varies with age. In younger men, it is about the size of a walnut, but it can be much larger in older men.
The prostate’s job is to make some of the fluid that protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen, making the semen more liquid. Just behind the prostate are glands called seminal vesicles that make most of the fluid for semen. The urethra, which is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body through the penis, goes through the center of the prostate.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer? Symptoms may include:
- Problems passing urine, such as pain, difficulty starting or stopping the stream, or dribbling
- Low back pain
- Pain with ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
How can I find out for sure if I have prostate cancer? Your doctor will diagnose prostate cancer by feeling the prostate through the wall of the rectum or doing a blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Other tests include ultrasound, x-rays or a biopsy but treatment often depends on the stage of the cancer. How fast the cancer grows and how different it is from surrounding tissue helps determine the stage. Men with prostate cancer have many treatment options. The treatment that’s best for one man may not be best for another. The options include watchful waiting, surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. You may have a combination of treatments.
How can I reduce my risk of prostate cancer? Here are a few key ways to stay healthy –
- Choose a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Avoid high-fat foods and instead focus on choosing a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and nutrients that can contribute to your health. One nutrient that is consistently linked to prostate cancer prevention is lycopene, which can be found in raw or cooked tomatoes.
Whether you can prevent prostate cancer through diet has yet to be conclusively proved. But eating a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables can improve your overall health.
- Choose healthy foods over supplements. No studies have shown that supplements play a role in reducing your risk of prostate cancer. While there has been some interest in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and selenium, to lower prostate cancer risk, studies haven’t found a benefit to taking supplements to create high levels of these nutrients in your body. Instead, choose foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals so that you can maintain healthy levels of vitamins in your body.
- Exercise most days of the week. Exercise improves your overall health, helps you maintain your weight and improves your mood. There is some evidence that the men who get the most exercise have a lower incidence of prostate cancer when compared with men who get little or no exercise.
Try to exercise most days of the week. If you’re new to exercise, start slow and work your way up to more exercise time each day.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If your current weight is healthy, work to maintain it by exercising most days of the week. If you need to lose weight, add more exercise and reduce the number of calories you eat each day. Ask your doctor for help creating a plan for healthy weight loss.
- Talk to your doctor about increased risk of prostate cancer. Men with a high risk of prostate cancer may consider medications or other treatments to reduce their risk. Some studies suggest that taking 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, including finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart), may reduce the overall risk of developing prostate cancer. These drugs are used to control prostate gland enlargement and hair loss in men.
However, some evidence indicates that men taking these medications may have an increased risk of getting a more serious form of prostate cancer (high-grade prostate cancer). If you’re concerned about your risk of developing prostate cancer, talk with your doctor.
How do people deal with being diagnosed with prostate cancer? Men recently diagnosed may experience a range of feelings — disbelief, fear, anger, anxiety and depression. With time, they may find their own way of coping with a prostate cancer diagnosis. If you’ve been diagnosed or know someone that has, be sure to
- Learn enough about prostate cancer to feel comfortable making treatment decisions. Learn as much as you can about your cancer and its treatment. Having a better idea of what to expect from treatment and life after treatment can make you feel more in control of your cancer. Ask your doctor, nurse or other health care professional to recommend some reliable sources of information to get you started.
- Keep your friends and family close. Your friends and family can provide support during and after your treatment. Friends and family can help with the small tasks you won’t have energy for during treatment. And having a close friend or family member to talk to can be helpful when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
- Connect with other cancer survivors. Friends and family can’t always understand what it’s like to face cancer. Other cancer survivors can provide a unique network of support. Ask your doctor or other member of your health care team about support groups or organizations in your community that can connect you with other cancer survivors. Organizations such as the American Cancer Society offer online chat rooms and discussion forums.
- Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself during cancer treatment by eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Try to exercise most days of the week. Get enough sleep each night so that you wake feeling rested.
- Continue sexual expression. If you experience erectile dysfunction, your natural reaction may be to avoid all sexual contact. But consider touching, holding, hugging and caressing as ways to continue sharing sexuality with your partner.
If I’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, what should I expect? Complications of prostate cancer and its treatments include:
- Cancer that spreads (metastasizes). Prostate cancer can spread to nearby organs, such as your bladder, or travel through your bloodstream or lymphatic system to your bones or other organs. Prostate cancer that spreads to the bones can cause pain and broken bones. Once prostate cancer has spread to other areas of the body, it may still respond to treatment and may be controlled, but it can no longer be cured.
- Both prostate cancer and its treatment can cause urinary incontinence. Treatment for incontinence depends on the type you have, how severe it is and the likelihood it will improve over time. Treatment options may include medications, catheters and surgery.
- Erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction can be a result of prostate cancer or its treatment, including surgery, radiation or hormone treatments. Medications, vacuum devices that assist in achieving erection and surgery are available to treat erectile dysfunction.
Remember, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (after skin cancer), but it can often be treated successfully. More than 2 million men in the US count themselves as prostate cancer survivors.
Men, if you are over the age of 40 or have a history of prostate cancer in your family, PLEASE get your prostate checked annually by your physician. Prostate cancer can kill you if not detected early enough. So do your part & encourage every man you know to get checked out! To learn more about prostate cancer, visit:
American Cancer Society (800) 227-2345
National Institutes of Health (301) 496-4000
Mayo Clinic (480) 301-8000
Here are some celebrities that have suffered with prostate cancer:
Robert De Niro
Not even prostate cancer could slow down Academy Award winner Robert De Niro. Known for “tough guy” roles in films including Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, the actor proved he had mettle offscreen, too, when was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 60. Fortunately for him — and his family, friends, and fans — “the condition was detected at an early stage because of regular checkups, a result of his proactive personal healthcare program,” his publicist said in a statement. Few details were released about the star’s treatment, but he went on to make a full recovery.
Actor/director Dennis Hopper, who appeared in movies including Easy Rider and Hoosiers, died from prostate cancer in May 2010, less than nine months after being diagnosed. In January of that year, he discovered that the cancer had metastasized to his bones, and by March, he was too weak to continue chemotherapy. Before he died, however, he was immortalized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — a fitting end to a long and fruitful career.
Academy Award winner Charlton Heston, known for his roles in movies like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998, just a couple of years after he underwent hip-replacement surgery. After a brief but intense course of radiation, the cancer went into remission — but Heston’s health would never be the same. In 2000, after finishing treatment for his cancer, he entered rehab for alcohol addiction, and in 2002, he announced another, even bigger threat to his health: Alzheimer’s disease. Six years later, at the age of 84, he passed away.
Golf legend Arnold Palmer has 62 PGA Tour wins, his own drink (half lemonade, half iced tea), and a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame — but his proudest accomplishment to date is his triumph over prostate cancer. In the years since his 1997 diagnosis and treatment (a radical prostatectomy and radiation), Palmer, 82, has used his celebrity to raise awareness of the disease among other men and to help found the Arnold Palmer Prostate Center, a nonprofit treatment destination at Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He’s adamant that all men should get screened. “There’s nothing better than going to the doctor and knowing just exactly where you stand,” he told Everyday Health. “That’s so important for men to do. Don’t think about doing it. Just do it.”
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani knew the heartbreak that prostate cancer could cause even before he was diagnosed in April 2000 — his father had died of the disease 19 years earlier. Determined not to meet the same fate, Giuliani, now 67 and healthy, chose a multi-phase treatment plan that consisted of four months of hormone therapy, implantation of radioactive metal pellets in his prostate (to radiate the cancer), and five weeks of almost-daily external-beam radiation with continuing hormone therapy. The plan was aggressive — but successful. It left the politician in both good health and good spirits
Are you a prostate cancer survivor?! Please feel free to share your helpful tips/advice. If you know someone who has suffered from prostate cancer, we’d love to hear your experiences in the comments section below –