Firstly, what is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.
This is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Usually, it grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or even no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.
When it is detected early — when it’s still confined to the prostate gland— has a better chance of successful treatment.
Some of its symptoms include signs such as:
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force in the stream of urine
- Blood in semen
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Bone pain
- Erectile dysfunction
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
Debate continues regarding the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening, and medical organizations differ on their recommendations. Discuss prostate cancer screening with your doctor. Together, you can decide what’s best for you.
It’s not clear what causes prostate cancer.
Doctors know that it begins when some cells in your prostate become abnormal. Mutations in the abnormal cells’ DNA cause the cells to grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells do. The abnormal cells continue living when other cells would die. The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can grow to invade nearby tissue. Some abnormal cells can also break off and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Factors that can increase your risk include:
- Age. Your risk of getting it increases as you age.
- Race. For reasons not yet determined, black men carry a greater risk of prostate cancer than do men of other races. In black men, it is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced.
- Family history. If men in your family have had 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 it may be higher.
- Obesity. Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be more likely to have advanced disease that’s more difficult to treat.
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’s unlikely to be cured.
- Incontinence. 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 result from 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.
You can reduce your risk of prostate cancer if you:
- 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.
Whether you can prevent it 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. There is some evidence that men who don’t exercise have higher PSA levels, while men who exercise may have a lower risk of prostate cancer.
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 the increased risk. 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.
- Does masturbating increase my risk of prostate cancer?
Some research suggests that masturbation and sexual activity probably don’t increase your risk of prostate cancer, and might even lower it. But we don’t know for certain how masturbation affects your risk because there isn’t much research in this area. It is a normal, healthy and enjoyable activity for many men.
- Am I more likely to get it if my father had it?
Inside every cell of our body is a set of instructions called genes. These are inherited from our parents. Genes control how the body grows, works and what it looks like. If something goes wrong with one or more genes (known as a fault or mutation) it can sometimes cause cancer.
- You are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has had it, compared to a man who has no relatives with prostate cancer.
- Your chance of getting prostate cancer may be even greater if your father or brother was under 60 when he was diagnosed, or if you have more than one close relative with prostate cancer.
- Does drinking alcohol increase my risk of getting prostate cancer?
We don’t know if alcohol has any specific effect on your risk of getting prostate cancer. But we do know that drinking too much alcohol can make you put on weight. Being overweight increases your risk of advanced or aggressive prostate cancer. Being overweight also increases your risk of other health problems such as heart disease and some other cancers.
The UK Government recommends drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. It’s best to spread your drinks out over the week but keep at least a few days alcohol-free every wee
- Is there anything I can do to prevent getting prostate cancer?
We don’t know how to prevent it for certain, but a healthy diet and lifestyle may be important. Eating healthily and being active can help you stay a healthy weight. This may mean that you’re less likely to be diagnosed with aggressive or advanced prostate cancer. A healthy lifestyle can also improve your general wellbeing and reduce your risk of other health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some other cancers.
- Does red wine help to prevent it?
Reuse it is made with grape skin, but white wine is not.
In 2005, one small study found that red wine may help to lower a man’s risk of prostate cancer. However, since then larger studies have not found this to be true. This means there is not enough evidence to say that red wine helps to prevent it.
Drinking a lot of alcohol might actually increase your risk of prostate cancer (see above).
Drinking alcohol also increases your risk of some other
- Do vitamin E and selenium protect against it?
Previous research suggested that vitamin E supplements might help prevent prostate cancer and help protect against advanced cancer.
The latest research suggests that not having enough vitamin E might increase your risk of prostate cancer, but that taking vitamin E supplements might be harmful. The best way to get enough vitamin E is through a balanced diet, without taking supplements.
Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables are all rich in vitamin E.