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Men must heed prostate-cancer risks
Health advice
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Every September, Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is widely promoted to educate men across the United States about the disease and to encourage them to get screened.
Nearly 100 percent survivable if caught in its earliest stages, prostate cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men after skin
One in six men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime and according to the American Cancer Society, more than 240,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year.
The cause of prostate cancer still is unknown, but most prostate tumors grow slowly; however, there are some deadly forms that do spread quickly. Doctors can’t always distinguish one from the other.
The prostate, a male sex gland about the size of a walnut, is below the bladder. The growth of cancer cells in the prostate, like normal prostate cells, is stimulated by male hormones.
Compared with other types of cancer, prostate cancer progresses relatively slowly.
A man with prostate cancer may live for many years without knowing he has it.
As a man gets older, his risk of developing prostate cancer increases. More than 70 percent of prostate cancers are diagnosed in men older than 65.
Prostate cancer detected in younger men tends to be more aggressive and early detection increases the success rate of
Physicians can’t explain why one man gets prostate cancer while another does not, but studies have found that the following risk factors are associated with prostate cancer:
• Age: In the United States, prostate cancer is found mainly in men older than 55. The average age of patients at the time of diagnosis is 70.
• Family history of prostate cancer: The risk of developing prostate cancer doubles if a man’s father or brother has been diagnosed with the disease.
• Race: This disease is much more common in African-American men than in white men. It is less common in Asian and Native-American men.
• Diet and dietary factors: Men who eat high-fat diets — particularly saturated fat — may have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer.
Symptoms may not be evident in the early stages of prostate cancer, but the disease can cause any of these problems:
• A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
• Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
• Inability to urinate
• Weak or interrupted flow of urine
• Painful or burning urination
• Blood in urine
• Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs

Five steps to prevent prostate cancer
1. Get annual tests: Men should undergo annual prostate specific antigen blood test screenings and digital rectal exams starting at age 50 or earlier. Men in high-risk groups, such as African Americans, should begin testing between ages 35-40.
2. Listen to your body: A change in frequency, urgency and pressure during urination, painful urination or the presence of blood in urine are all warning signs. Learn more at
3. Regulate diet and alcohol intake: Eat healthy, balanced meals rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Consume no more than two drinks per day as studies show heavy drinking increases the risk.
4. Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity may affect hormone levels related to prostate-cancer risk.
5. Exercise regularly: At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to seven times per week guards against multiple health risks.

Ratcliffe is a consultant to the Coastal Health District. You can call her at 876-6399.

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