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Prostate Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment

1,276,106 men worldwide were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018

The number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer continues to rise globally. 1,276,106 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018. It is the most common cancer in the United Kingdom, while in the Unites States, there were 174,650 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019. When diagnosed and treated at early stage, the 5-year survival rate can be close to 100%, however, if the prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the survival rate can be as low as 30%. In 2019 alone, 31,620 american men died from prostate cancer. Today, there are around 3 million survivors of prostate cancer in the United States.

The Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer

Men age over 45 years are recommended to get their prostate examined by the doctor at least once a year. It is crucial for prostate cancer to be detected early when the survival chances are highest. 

Men need to be aware that prostate cancer is different from prostate enlargement. Prostate enlargement is not cancer. Prostate usually starts to enlarge when men reach 40 years of age. Both can have overlap symptoms, however, unlike prostate cancer, prostate enlargement doesn't usually require urgent medical treatment until at later stage.

Apart from the initial physical examination, few other tests may be used in the diagnosis of prostate cancer such as:

1. PSA Test

PSA test is a blood test to check the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. PSA test can be unreliable, as it may indicate the presence of prostate cancer when there isn't. 

2. MRI Scan

Due to inconclusive results of PSA test, most men need a MRI Scan to see whether or not there is abnormality in their prostate.

3. Biopsy

By far the most accurate and reliable test to diagnose prostate cancer, however, biopsy can be a painful procedure.

Due to the potential adverse effects of the treatment, the screening for prostate cancer can be rigorous. This is particularly important when the patients are reasonably young. I explain briefly the potential side effects of prostate cancer treatment in the following paragraphs.

 

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The Treatment for Prostate Cancer

Depending on the country where you live, there are some available treatments for prostate cancer as listed below. 

1. Prostatectomy

Prostatectomy is a surgical procedure to remove partial or the whole prostate. It can be very effective when the prostate cancer has not yet spread to other parts of the body.

2. Radiotherapy

During radiotherapy treatment, high-energy X-ray beams are used to destroy and stop prostate cancer cells from growing and spreading. With radiotherapy, particular efforts are usually made to prevent too much damage to healthy prostate cells.

3. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is often used for advanced prostate cancer when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Although chemotherapy will not remove the cancer cells completely, it helps to shrink the cancer and slow down the growth.

4. Cryotherapy

During cryotherapy, thin needles and liquid nitrogen or argon gas are used to freeze and destroy prostate cancer cells. It is only suitable when the prostate cancer has not yet spread to other parts of the body. Cryotherapy is not widely used, hence, it may only be available in some countries. 

5. Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy on its own will not cure prostate cancer, however, the doctor may suggest the use of hormone therapy to increase the effectiveness of prostate cancer treatment.

The idea of hormone therapy is to stop your body from making testosterone or to prevent testosterone from reaching the prostate cancer cells. Testosterone itself doesn't trigger cancer, nevertheless, it can make the prostate cancer cells to grow faster.

 

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Can Prostate Cancer Treatment Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Your doctor will usually discuss all the available options with you including the potential side effects of prostate cancer treatment. Like with all cancer treatments, there are immediate and long-term side effects of prostate cancer treatment that patients have to be fully aware of.

Most men who are undergoing treatment for prostate cancer will experience erectile dysfunction. There is no guarantee that this problem will subside long after completing the treatment. Nevertheless, men shouldn't delay the treatment.

Impotence is a very common problem among men in general. Up to 40% of men have experienced some degree of impotence at certain times in their life by the age of 40. With the current medical science, there is always a solution for erectile dysfunction. Men who suffer from prostate cancer should focus on the treatment rather than worrying about the potential side effects that can be dealt with after.

Calcium and Phosphorus Increase The Risk for Prostate Cancer

For yet unknown reason, men of african-descent are more likely to suffer from prostate cancer than men of other descent. Geographically, men who live in western countries tend to be at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer too. A calcium and phosphorus rich diet which is common in western countries has been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. This finding seems to be further validated by the fact that asian men who live in western countries have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer than asian men who live in asia.

A 24-year follow-up study involving 47,885 men showed that daily intake of calcium of 2,000mg or more increased the risk for prostate cancer. Calcium intake was associated with a higher risk of advanced-stage and aggressive prostate cancer after 12 to 16 years. Phosphorus in high quantity also increased the risk of having advanced-stage and aggressive prostate cancer within the first 8 years of consumption.

Milk, cheese and other dairy foods are particularly high in calcium and phosphorus. Men with a history of prostate cancer in the family may reduce the risk for prostate cancer by cutting down on calcium and phosphorus rich foods.

 

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Lycopene Reduces The Risk of Prostate Cancer

Lycopene is an antioxidant found in tomatoes, carrots, watermelons and papayas. Processed tomatoes are thought to be the highest source of lycopene. Data from 17,517 prostate cancer cases suggest that lycopene reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Daily intake of lycopene between 9 to 21mg helps lower the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Eating Garlic Helps Lower The Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer

Fresh garlic has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Allicin is a compound with a strong odor found in garlic that has many health benefits. Studies suggest that allicin is quite volatile, in the sense that processed garlic may have lost most of the therapeutic properties. It is better to eat garlic raw.

Data from 132,192 men showed that the regular consumption of garlic reduces the risk for prostate cancer. A study in China showed that men who eat 10g of garlic per day have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.

Ginger Inhibits The Growth of Prostate Cancer Cells

I love eating raw ginger every morning with fruit salad or in my smoothie. Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Ginger helps boost immune system by slightly raising the body temperature.

A study published in The British Journal of Nutrition showed that the consumption of ginger extract at 100mg/kg body weight inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells. Eating ginger may help improve the condition of prostate cancer patients, nevertheless, if you are on medication, always discuss with your doctor before you start eating herbs regularly. Therapeutic herbs may reduce the effectiveness of some drugs.

Curcumin in Turmeric Reduces The Growth of Prostate Cancer Cells

Curcumin, a phytochemical with a deep-orange colour found in Turmeric has been shown to reduce the growth of prostate cancer cells and help prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. Curcumin is known for its excellent anti-inflammatory properties, hence, it may also be beneficial for other types of cancer.

 

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Author:

Henry Tianus is a multi-award-winning Anti-Ageing Scientist based in London, UK. Henry Tianus has been listed as The Recognised Institute Practitioner at The Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy (ITHMA), London (UK) since 2005. Henry Tianus's articles have been read by people in more than 100 countries with USA, UK and Singapore at the top of the list. Join Henry Tianus eNewsletter to receive the latest health and wellbeing tips. 

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