Prostate cancer is very common. It kills about 30,000 a year. In most men, prostate cancer isn’t likely to kill them before something else does. But since prostate cancer still kills so many men, it’s important to find out which men are most at risk of dying early.
This new study shows that PSA can tell you.
- Prostate cancer (PCa) is the second most common cancer and the sixth leading cause of cancer death among men worldwide, with an estimated recorded amount of 1.1 million cases and 307,000 deaths in 20121,2, which allocates 15% of all new cases of cancer in men (3).
- PSA’s not a very good indication of cancer, but it’s a good measure of how well cancer treatment has worked. PSA should drop to very low levels after surgery or radiation treatment for cancer.
- “Normally, a man gets treated for prostate cancer, and his PSA is monitored every six months for a few years. In order to call somebody a failure, that the disease has recurred, you need to see a PSA that is going up.”
- But not every man whose PSA goes up after treatment dies of cancer. And not every prostate cancer patient is saved by fresh treatment once his PSA rises to a certain level, usually a reading of 10.
Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages. Prostate cancer that’s more advanced may cause signs and symptoms such as:
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force in the stream of urine
- Blood in the urine
- Blood in the semen
- Bone pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Erectile dysfunction
Factors that can increase your risk of prostate cancer include:
- Older age. Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you age. It’s most common after age 50.
- Race. For reasons not yet determined, Black people have a greater risk of prostate cancer than do people of other races. In Black people, prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced.
- Family history. If a blood relative, such as a parent, sibling or child, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk may be increased. Also, if you have a family history of genes that increase the risk of breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2) or a very strong family history of breast cancer, your risk of prostate cancer may be higher.
- Obesity. People who are obese may have a higher risk of prostate cancer compared with people considered to have a healthy weight, though studies have had mixed results. In obese people, the cancer is more likely to be more aggressive and more likely to return after initial treatment.
You can reduce your risk of prostate cancer if you:
- Choose a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and nutrients that can contribute to your health. 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. 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. 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 choosing a healthy diet and 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 the increased risk of prostate cancer. If you have a very high risk of prostate cancer, you and your doctor may consider medications or other treatments to reduce the 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.However, some evidence indicates that people 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.