Prostate Cancer: Sometimes, No Treatment is the Preferred Treatment

Prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer: Sometimes, No Treatment is the Preferred Treatment

10:09 06 June in Health

Prostate cancer is a tumor that occurs in the prostate, the walnut-sized gland in men that’s located just below the bladder. It’s the most common cancer diagnosis in men followed by lung, colorectal and bladder cancers, and the World Health Organization estimates that about 1.5 million individuals around the world will be diagnosed with it each year.

Even though its worldwide prevalence has grown in recent years, men diagnosed with the disease are living longer and experiencing fewer symptoms. A recent study of 76 countries showed that mortality rates due to prostate cancer have decreased or stabilized in 73 of them, largely due to new, effective treatments.

Some forms grow so slowly that treatment might not be needed initially, if at all. Some cases of the disease will never spread beyond the prostate or cause symptoms. In those cases, a doctor may recommend active surveillance, beginning treatment only if the tumor grows or symptoms develop.

Who is most likely to get it?

Risk factors include:

Age: Age is the primary risk factor for prostate cancer. About 60% of diagnoses will occur in men who are 65 or older, and it’s rare in people under 40.

Race: Not only do Black men have higher rates of prostate cancer, they are also more likely to have aggressive forms of the disease.

Family History: If someone has a father, brother, or uncle who was diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 65, they have a higher risk for the disease.

Geography: The United States and the Caribbean have the highest rates of the disease. The United States alone has more than 3.1 million prostate cancer survivors today, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

If a man has an increased risk for prostate cancer, they can talk with their doctor about a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test that can screen for prostate cancer. Small levels of PSA, which is produced in the prostate, are healthy. When PSA levels increase, however, it can signal that something abnormal is occurring. If a test reveals high levels of PSA, it doesn’t necessarily mean cancer, however; an inflamed prostate can also spike PSA levels.

How can men reduce their risk?

Studies show that a healthy diet may decrease the odds for prostate cancer. By minimizing saturated and trans fats, eating more fruits and vegetables, and including soy in one’s diet, men may reduce their risk. Also, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising can offer protection from cancer. Individuals can get extra credit by enjoying some of that exercise in the sunshine: Boosting vitamin D can reduce cancer risk as well.

What are the symptoms of the disease?

In its early stages, prostate cancer may not cause any symptoms. As it advances, however, men may notice blood in their semen or urine and/or have trouble urinating, unintentional weight loss, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, or back pain. If a man experiences these symptoms, he should have a discussion with his healthcare provider.

How is prostate cancer treated?

In cases where treatment is needed, multiple types of therapies exist. Which therapy is used will depend upon the stage and location of the tumor. These treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy. In addition, ablative therapies can destroy cancerous prostate tissue with extreme heat or cold, without the need for radiation. Immunotherapy, in which medicines allow the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells, is another effective treatment.

By understanding risk factors, learning about symptoms, and getting regular health screenings, men who get prostate cancer can increase their odds of catching the disease in its early stages, when five-year survival rates can be nearly 100%.