What is the Prostate?
The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system and therefore only present in men. It’s a small walnut-sized gland that produces seminal fluid and sits below the bladder near the rectum. It surrounds the urethra- the passage in the penis through which urine and semen pass. The prostate is often described as being the size of a walnut and it’s normal for it to grow as men age.
Prostate cancer is a cancer in a man’s prostate. Many men die with prostate cancer, but not from it. It’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the United States and Europe after Skin cancer; and in India it’s the 3rd most common in Indian metros (2nd in B’lore and Delhi).
(Globocan 2012 data)
What you need to know about Prostate Cancer
Pre-screening is essential in detecting prostate cancer. Research has found it to run through families, which is why it can be considered as inherited or genetic. Approximately 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives. And about 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older. Only in rare cases before the age of 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
Factors that can increase your risk of prostate cancer include:
- Age: Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you age.
- Family history: If men in your family have had prostate cancer, your risk may be increased.
- Obesity: Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be more likely to have advanced disease that is more difficult to treat.
Prostate cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer worldwide. It’s incidence increases with age, meaning: the older you are, the greater your chance of developing it. The incidence has nearly doubled over the past 20 years.
It’s because by improved detection capability, through:
- using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and,
- digital rectal examination (DPR)
If the cancer is detected in the 1st or 2nd stages, it is 100% curable!
There are high success rates of treatment when compared to other types of cancers in the body. Unfortunately, the underside is that the majority of people in India detect the cancer at last stages, where chances for survival and cure have decreased tremendously. This is due to the lack of awareness.
What you can do to reduce the risk of developing Prostate Cancer?
1. Improve your diet:
It is said that men who eat a lot of red meat or dairy foods and products have a higher chance of getting prostate cancer. It can also affect those men who eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Therefore, we recommend eating a more plant-based balanced diet that is high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and low in red meats and full-fat dairy products- as everything needs to be done in moderation and not excessively; as well as consuming at least 3-4 litres of water to flush out the system of toxins.
Nutrition: what should you eat?
The link between nutrition and prostate cancer risk has been investigated in numerous studies. The association between certain nutrients and significance of prostate cancer has been observed.
- Scientists have found some substances in tomatoes (lycopenes) and soybeans (isoflavones) that might help prevent prostate cancer.
Lycopene is a carotenoid that protects cells and cellular components against oxidative damage. Red coloured fruits and vegetables contain lycopene, however tomatoes are the easiest and best source. It can be absorbed more efficiently in a liquid form in juice or curry or paste. Increased Isoflavons consumption has shown to reduce the incidence of prostate cancer, as it hinders the process of carcinogenesis.
- Vitamin D signalling may be important in prevention of prostate cancer.
- A proper balanced diet with good nutrition plays a very important role. Nutrition goes hand in hand with the treatments that are being followed to cure Prostate Cancer. Along with macronutrients, emphasising more on micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is more essential to get better results.
- Folate and Vitamin E are a protective factor that may help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Therefore, increasing certain nutrients in diet have shown positive effects of preventing Prostate cancer.
150 minutes of activity a week is highly necessary. This can be achieved very simply by 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week, in order to maintain your ideal weight. Brisk walking is encouraged for those who are not particularly active, as well as yoga because it is great for strength, stability, flexibility and managing the mind.
3. Change your Habits:
Habits are critical in maintaining consistency. Individuals should limit alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day and quit smoking or using other types of tobacco. Foods with high sugar, or that are fried and considered ‘fatty’ foods should be avoided as high fat levels can lead to hormonal imbalances in the body.
So what are your treatment options if you do get diagnosed?
- Active surveillance- for very low risk cancer.
- Surgery or Radiation- for organ confined prostate cancer and locally advanced prostate cancer.
- Hormone and/or chemotherapy for advanced prostate cancer.
In conclusion, Prostate Cancer is a very common disease. It can be detected by simple examination (DRE) and by a single blood test (PSA). Both the American Urological Association and Urological Society of India recommend the examination yearly for men aged 50 yrs and above, and at 40 yrs if there family history of prostate cancer. If detected early, prostate cancer is potentially curable.
Article written by – Rhea Menon, Carer Program and Dr. Raghunath (Uro-oncologist), Global Prostate Disease Foundation