Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, Causes & Prevention
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in Singapore men. There has been increasing incidence over the last few decades. Let’s learn more about this cancer.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that develops in a man’s prostate which is a walnut-sized gland located just below the bladder that produces some of the fluid in semen. This cancer grows slowly in most cases and may not cause significant harm. However, some strains are more aggressive and can spread quickly if not treated.
Prostate cancer may have no symptoms in the early stages. Later, symptoms may include:
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Difficulty starting or stopping urination
- Weak or interrupted urinary stream
- Painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
It is critical to notify your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms so that the underlying cause can be identified and treated if necessary.
Like all types of cancer, the exact cause of prostate cancer isn’t easy to determine. On a basic level, changes in the DNA of a normal prostate cell can cause prostate cancer. DNA is the chemical in our cells that makes up our genes, which control how our cells function. The changes tell the cells to start growing uncontrollably and abnormally. The abnormal cells continue to grow and divide until a tumor develops.
DNA changes can either be inherited from a parent or can be acquired during a person’s lifetime.
Factors that can increase your risk of getting prostate cancer include:
Age: This cancer is uncommon in men under the age of 40, but the risk increases dramatically after the age of 50.
Race: Black people are more likely than other races to develop prostate cancer for unknown reasons. This cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced in Black people.
Family history: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC USA, people may have an increased risk of getting a type of prostate cancer caused by genetic changes that are inherited if they have more than one first-degree relative (father, son, or brother) who had this cancer, including relatives in three generations on your mother’s or father’s side of the family
Diet: The exact role of diet in prostate cancer is not clear, but several factors have been studied. Men who consume a lot of dairy products appear to have a slightly increased risk of developing this cancer.
A dietary fat, particularly animal fat from red meat, may boost male hormone levels. And this may fuel the growth of cancerous cells.
Obesity: Some studies have also discovered that obese men are at a higher risk of developing advanced prostate cancer and dying from it, but not all studies have found this.
How to prevent Prostate Cancer?
There is no sure way to prevent prostate cancer. But there are some things you can do that might lower your risk of getting this disease:
Exercise regularly: Exercise improves your overall health, aids in weight maintenance, and elevates your mood. Make an effort to exercise for about 30 minutes on most days of the week.
Choose a healthy diet: Eat tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower), soy-based foods, and drink green tea are also potential dietary components that may be helpful.
Try to keep the amount of fat you get from red meat and dairy products to a minimum.
Eat more fish – evidence from several studies suggests that eating fish can help protect against this cancer because it contains “good fat,” particularly omega-3 fatty acids.
Watch your calcium intake: Do not take supplemental doses far above the recommended daily allowance. Some calcium is OK, but avoid taking more than 1,200 mg per day, following the guidance from the Prostate Cancer Foundation
Stop smoking: According to a study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of California, San Francisco, researchers suggest that men who smoke are more likely to develop prostate cancer and die from it.
Talk with your doctor: This cancer is a risk for all men as they age, but if it’s caught and treated early, the outlook is generally very good. Therefore, if you’re concerned about your risk of developing it or showing any symptoms, talk with your doctor.
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Reference: American Cancer Society, Mayo Clinic
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