There are some clear factors that help men determine whether or not they are at risk for developing prostate cancer. While some of these factors may be influenced by lifestyle choices, others simply cannot be avoided. Knowing the risks for prostate cancer helps men understand the need for routine screenings.
The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that makes and stores a component of semen. It is located in front of the rectum and just under the bladder. This gland surrounds the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder. A healthy prostate is about the size of a walnut.
With the exception of cancers of the skin, prostate cancer is the most common form of the disease found in American men. It is estimated that one in every six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime. Aside from being male, there are some very clear factors that may indicate a higher risk for developing this type of cancer. Some of these risk factors simply cannot be controlled, while others may be lessened through changes in lifestyle.
The greatest risk factor for prostate cancer is age. The older an individual is, the more likely he is to develop this type of cancer. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, more than 65 percent of men over the age of 65 receive this diagnosis.
Race and ethnicity also play a role in determining the risk of developing the disease. African-American men are diagnosed about 60 percent more often than Caucasian men (Prostate Cancer Risk Factors, n.d.). Generally, African-American men are not diagnosed as early as males of other races and as a result, have a higher mortality rate from this disease. Asian men who live in Asia have the lowest incidence of diagnosis.
Prostate cancer seems to run in families, suggesting that there may be an inherited or genetic factor in some cases. A man with a father or brother who has developed this form of cancer is twice as likely to be diagnosed as well. His risk goes up as the number of affected relatives increases, particularly if the relatives were diagnosed at a young age.
Recent studies indicate that a sedentary life, smoking, lack of vegetables, and a high calcium intake may increase the chance of developing the more aggressive form of prostate cancer. While there has been no clear link between obesity and prostate cancer, it is true that obese males may have a more difficult time being diagnosed, recovery from surgery may take longer, and the risk of dying from prostate cancer is higher for these individuals. Researchers are studying the effect that a healthy diet and an active lifestyle have on the prevention and recovery from this disease. They hope to learn more in order to empower men and heal families.
Research suggests a diet rich in lycopene and fish oils may lower the risk for prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society suggests that men should consume five or more servings of vegetables and fruit each day. They should limit the amount of red meats and dairy products. It is also recommended that men should maintain a healthy weight and an active lifestyle (Diet and Physical Activity, 2008). Making these small changes may help a person stay healthy and give him a better chance of survival should a diagnosis occur.
It is important that men, especially older men, are familiar with the risk factors that may make them more susceptible to developing cancer of the prostate. Regular screening with a doctor can detect cancer at an early stage, increasing your chance of recovery. With new treatments and aggressive therapy, men can recover from this affliction and go on to live happy and healthy lives.