Prostate cancer – what do you know?

Prostate cancer – two words that fill men with dread. Cancer is one of the main health concerns men face, with 1 in 23 men being diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime – the most common among South Africans. Besides the image of a doctor with a rubber glove, how much do you know about this manly menace?

Are there warning signs?

Prostate cancer in the early stages has few or no symptoms. Symptoms such as the need to urinate, a weak or interrupted urinary stream, painful or burning sensations when urinating or blood in the urine are symptoms of advanced prostate cancer. Depending on what parts of the body it spreads to, prostate cancer symptoms may include bone pain, weight loss, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

Compared to other cancers, prostate cancer is slow-growing, which means that signs and symptoms are few and far between. The good news is that if caught early, it can be treated and managed successfully. On the downside, once prostate cancer begins to grow quickly or spreads outside the prostate, it becomes dangerous and much harder to treat.

Give yourself a better chance

Men who are overweight or obese when they’re diagnosed with prostate cancer face a higher risk of dying from the disease. A recent study showed that patients who eventually died from prostate cancer were 50% more likely to be overweight or obese at the time of diagnosis than those who did not die from the disease.

Top risk factors for prostate cancer

Age is probably the biggest risk factor, with about 80% of cases found in men over the age of 65, and less than 1% in men under the age of 50. Genes also play a role, although they only account for less than 10% of all cases. Those with a family history of prostate cancer, especially if relatives were young when they were diagnosed with the disease, fall into a higher risk group. Prostate cancer is also the most common cancer in black South African men and the second most common cancer in white men.

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Prevention

Tomatoes, guavas and pink grapefruit are all rich sources of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant regularly associated with prostate health. Of course eating a balanced diet high in fruit and veg is one of the most important lifestyle changes you can make.

Take the test!

Men over the age of 50 should go for annual prostate checks. However, black men and other men over the age of 40 who have a family history of prostate cancer should consider biting the bullet & getting tested from the age of 40.