Prostate Awareness

Many men are aware that they have a prostate, but are unable to tell you exactly what it is and what its function holds.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that lies at the base of the bladder and surrounds the urethra. The gland produces and secretes fluid and controls the flow of fluid.

In the United States, prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in men. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that one out of every 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. However, only about one out of every 35 will die from the disease.

Because June is Prostate Awareness Month, I would like to share some information and helpful tips with you to help keep you healthy.

Let’s start off by identifying the symptoms of prostate cancer. Symptoms usually include, but are not limited to the following:

• Frequent urination (especially at night)
• Swollen lymph nodes in the groin
• Problems maintaining an erection
• Pain in the groin, spine, hips, and ribs
• Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
• Weak or interrupted flow of urine
• Pain when urinating or ejaculating
• Blood in the urine or semen

However, one must be cautious as some of these symptoms are also symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

A simple PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test, preformed by your doctor, can determine if the problem is more serious.

Because men aged 65 and older account for two-thirds of all prostate cancer diagnosis, it is recommended that at age 50, men start getting a regular PSA test every year by your physician.

Now that we have talked about the symptoms of prostate cancer let’s talk about some ways that we can help prevent it.

Improving your diet can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. This would include eating an array of different fruits and vegetables and cutting down on saturated fats.

A study by researchers at Harvard University found that men who ate cooked tomatoes, or foods made with them, such as tomato sauce or ketchup, at least twice a week were less likely to develop the disease.

Another way to reduce the risk of prostate cancer is to limit alcohol consumption. This means no more than two drinks per day. Some research has shown that heavy drinking can intensify prostate cancer.

But what if you have done everything right and are still diagnosed with prostate cancer? This is a possibility, but prostate cancer is also treatable.

Prostate cancer treatments depend on many factors, including your age and life expectancy, your general health, and your feelings about treatment.

If the cancerous tumors are found only in the prostate itself, doctors may just remove the prostate or use radiation therapy to kill the cells.

There is also an approach called “watchful waiting,” which is when the patient decides to do nothing at all. Although his may sound alarming, it makes sense for those patients who’s tumors are slow growing. In fact, the majority of the men who are 85 and older have cancerous prostate cells, but the disease is developing so gradually that it never threatens their quality of life.

As always, please consult your physician if you have any questions or feel you are at risk for prostate cancer.

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