April is National Cancer Control Month. Until we find a cure for cancer, our best bet for maintaining as much control as possible over cancer is education and awareness. This is an informational discussion of prostate cancer, the risk factors and warning signs:
Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer
Prostate Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men in the United States. Though prostate cancer can effect any man, there are some factors that increase the risk for the disease:
Age: Men under the age of 40 are rarely diagnosed with prostate cancer, but the risk increases with age.
Smoking: Men who are heavy smokers are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than nonsmoking men. The good news is that if you quit smoking, your risk for prostate cancer decreases almost to that of a nonsmoker over ten years.
Region: The incidence of prostate cancer is highest in North America and Northern Europe, moderate in Central America and Western Africa, and lowest in Japan and other Asian countries. This may be due in part to different screening practices, diet, environmental factors or genetic predisposition.
Ethnicity: African American men are twice as likely to die of prostate cancer than Caucasian men.
Family History: Men with a family history of prostate cancer are two to eleven times more likely to develop prostate cancer than men with no family history of prostate cancer.
Diet and Vitamins: Though there are theories about different foods and vitamins that increase the risk of prostate cancer, scientists are still studying to prove a direct relationship between specific foods or vitamins and cancer. For example, the Japanese population consumes about 90 times the amount of soy products than the US population, and there is a much lower incidence of prostate cancer in Japan than in the US. Because of this, scientists are currently studying soy to see if this has a direct preventative effect on prostate cancer, but more research needs to be done.
Some of these risk factors, such as smoking, are within your control, while others, such as family history are not. It is important to know the risk factors, control the ones you can control, and be aware of the ones beyond your control so that you can be on the lookout for any symptoms of prostate cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Some men with prostate cancer notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the lower pelvic area, lower back, hips or upper thighs, or persistent bone pain
- Problems with urination such as the frequent need to urinate, the inability to urinate, pain or burning during urination, or a weakened urine flow.
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Painful ejaculation
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
Men who notice any of these symptoms should get checked by a doctor right away for an early diagnosis. In addition, because prostate cancer can also be symptom free, men should schedule a regular physical even when they feel healthy. Early detection and diagnosis give men the most options for treatment and the best survival rates for prostate cancer. If you have any questions about prostate cancer, schedule an appointment with your urologist today.