With prostate cancer, early detection and treatment are key
Prostate cancer is among the most common cancers in men — the American Cancer Society estimates that about 270,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with it this year, and that more than 30,000 will die from it. That’s why it’s especially important for men to get screened for prostate cancer so it can be caught and treated early.
Dr. Luke Huerter, an oncologist with the LMH Health Cancer Center, said that 11% of men in the U.S. are diagnosed with prostate cancer over their lifetime, and that certain demographic groups and men with a family history of the disease are at increased risk.
“When it comes to screening, for the average-risk male screening begins around age 50. The average-risk male is typically Caucasian with no family history of prostate cancer,” he said. “In African American men, men with genetic mutations or who have a family history of prostate cancer, screening can begin at 40 to 45 years old.”
Huerter said screenings and annual visits are important because prostate cancer can often be beaten if it’s caught early enough. The vast majority of men with early-stage prostate cancer will be cured with treatment, he said, and “even men with more advanced prostate cancer can live years with their disease.”
“Prostate cancer treatment has evolved significantly over the years,” Huerter said. “Treatment can involve surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and androgen deprivation therapy. More recently, immunotherapy and targeted radioligand therapy have become newer options to treat prostate cancer.”
Dr. Jon Heeb, a urologist with Lawrence Urology Specialists, said that it’s best if prostate cancer is caught before the symptoms are even noticeable. When prostate cancers are found early, it’s likely that there will be no symptoms at all. However, Heeb said that if you’re experiencing pain, you should contact your doctor.
“Significant pain may mean you have developed more advanced prostate cancer,” he said. “Though prostate cancer is something to be taken very seriously, there are also different diseases on the spectrum that may not require much worry.”
Heeb said that in addition to screening, it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk of cancer. He said one of the best ways to reduce your risk is to eat a healthy, plant-based diet.
“This is the diet shown to be best for the prostate to keep it healthy and protected,” he said. “Make sure you get lots of vegetables in or with your meals and exercise consistently. No matter your age or life stage, it is not too late to begin health changes.”
Though it is unlikely that a man will develop prostate cancer below age 40, Heeb said it is important to have a primary care provider you can turn to for all your health questions.
“We know you may have questions regarding if and when you should be screened,” he said. “It is best to have a trusted health provider to walk you through health questions and walk alongside you when issues arise.”
— Autumn Bishop is the marketing manager and content specialist at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Journal-World’s Health section.