Prostate cancer is the cancer that develops in the prostate gland, a walnut-sized gland which is an important part of male reproductive system. The Indian Prostate Cancer Foundation states that prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer globally and sixth leading cause of cancer death in men. What’s more bothersome is that India has seen an increasing trend in the new cases of prostate cancer in recent years.
Most types of prostate cancers grow slowly and remain confined to the prostate gland. Also, there are high chances of a minimal and successful treatment if a prostate cancer gets detected early while it is still within the gland and not spread beyond. On the other hand, other types can be aggressive and may spread swiftly. A test, called the PSA blood test, is used to screen for prostate cancer. This simple test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in blood, which is a protein made by the prostate gland. If PSA levels are high, it may indicate prostate-related problems including a noncancerous condition such as inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis), an enlarged prostate gland, or prostate cancer.
Red flag: Prostate cancer may cause no symptoms
It is quite common to not have any warning signs in its early stages. The symptoms when present can include:
- Trouble in passing urine
- Decreased force in the urine stream
- Blood in the urine
- Blood in the semen
- Bone pain
- Unexplained loss of weight
- Erectile dysfunction
It is crucial to see your doctor if you have any persistent signs or symptoms that are worrying you, even if they are as general as losing weight unintentionally. Do not ignore testing. If you are advised a prostate blood test, get it done on priority and follow up with your doctor.
Prostate cancer risk factors you should be aware of
The most common risk factor is age. About 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65. The older a man is, the higher the risk of developing prostate cancer. It is quite uncommon for men younger than 40, but the risk rises rapidly beyond age 50.
Your organs also age as you age. The best way to keep track of your aging organs is a comprehensive body check up.
Family history of prostate cancer:
In some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of getting it.
Though being obese does not seem to increase the overall risk of getting prostate cancer, some studies have shown that obese men may be at greater risk for having more advanced prostate cancer.
The link between smoking and prostate cancer is neither direct nor conclusive but studies have linked smoking to a possible small increased risk of death from prostate cancer.
Sitting too much is new smoking:
While there are only a few studies that linked sedentary behavior and cancer risk, sedentary behavior and physically inactive lifestyle are considered risk factors for seeding many chronic conditions. It may also be associated with increased risk for certain cancers. Certain epidemiologic studies have suggested that staying physically active can help improve quality of life in advanced cancers. Some sources state that men with prostate cancer who have enough physical activity have a 33% lower risk of death from prostate cancer.
How much is enough
In general, 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 to 100 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week is recommended by the guidelines. This physical activity can be done in episodes of any length. You can check the intensity of your workout through a talk test. If you can talk but not sing during exercise, it is moderate-intensity. If you cannot speak more than a few words, it is highly likely to happen during vigorous-intensity workout.
Here is a point to note
Having one risk factor, or even several, does not imply that you are bound to get the disease. Many people may have various risk factors but never get cancer, while there are others who develop cancer despite having no known risk factors. There is no proven strategy for preventing prostate cancer, but awareness is the key to staying safe. Make sure to get a PSA test done if you think you are at a higher risk, look for warning signs, and swear by rules for a healthy lifestyle.
A full body check up is a great start to kick off a healthy journey. Book here, get tested at home, and access your results online.