Monday, April 11, 2016

7 Facts About Prostate Cancer All Young Men Should Know - See more at:

I was 52 when diagnosed with Gleason 8, extra capsular, Stage IV, metastatic (to the lungs) prostate cancer.

Many men 55 and younger are under the mistaken belief that their risk of developing prostate cancer is practically nonexistent. However, although the vast majority of prostate cancer cases develop in men age 65 and older, more than 10 percent are diagnosed in men age 55 and younger.
All men, regardless of age, should be aware of what experts have learned about the risks of prostate cancer among younger men. This is especially true if there is a history of prostate cancer in your family.

Prostate cancer among younger men is rising

A University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center study recently reported that the number of younger men being diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased sixfold over the past two decades. This finding was coupled with the discovery that men who develop this disease early have more genetic variants (genes such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, associated with breast cancer) than their older peers. Therefore, men who have a family history of prostate cancer are encouraged to seek genetic counseling or talk to their doctor about regular early monitoring.

High-risk younger men need to be screened early

Men who have a family history of prostate cancer have a two- to threefold increased risk of developing prostate cancer, and that chance rises even higher among young men who have several relatives with the disease. While men with an average risk of prostate cancer are advised by the American Cancer Society to be screened for the disease at age 50, men at high risk, including African Americans, should start at 45.

Prostate cancer can be more aggressive among younger men

It may seem unusual, but the younger you are when you develop prostate cancer, the greater your chances of dying of the disease. One major reason is that prostate cancer typically has no evident symptoms in its early stages. Therefore, when aggressive prostate cancer is discovered in younger men, it often has already progressed to a more advanced state and therefore is more challenging to treat. Another reason is that some types of prostate cancer appearing in younger men grow more rapidly and can be more deadly than those that are diagnosed in older men.

Early prostate cancer often does not have symptoms

A big reason why prostate cancer can sneak up on you is the lack of symptoms, especially during the early stages. As the disease progresses, symptoms can include urinary issues (e.g., difficulty urinating, urinary frequency and/or urgency), erectile dysfunction, and blood in the urine. However, since these can be symptoms of other conditions that commonly occur in men, such as an enlarged prostate, they can be overlooked. So when in doubt, check it out!

It’s never too early to help prevent prostate cancer

Prostate cancer doesn’t appear overnight; even aggressive forms of the disease develop over time. Therefore, it’s never too early to adopt a healthy lifestyle that can help reduce the risk of a diagnosis in the future. Based on scores of studies around lifestyle that can affect a man’s risk of and survival from prostate cancer, there is some evidence that the following factors have a role: diet high in red meat and/or high-fat dairy, high calcium intake, smoking, pesticide exposure, excess alcohol intake, being sedentary, and being overweight.

There are pros and cons of prostate cancer screening

First of all, the current prostate cancer screening methods are simple; a blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and a digital rectal exam to detect any unusual lumps or other abnormalities in the prostate. However, there’s considerable controversy surrounding these guidelines for prostate cancer screening, including the accuracy and reliability of PSA and how often screening is needed. New techniques to measure PSA are under investigation, but for the majority of men, the traditional methods will have to do for now. All men should have a frank discussion with their healthcare provider about the pros and cons of screening as it pertains to their unique situation.

Watchful waiting can be a wise choice for young men

Early onset prostate cancer can be aggressive, but in most cases it is not. That’s where watchful waiting comes in. Because treatment for prostate cancer, including radiation, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy, is associated with serious, life-altering side effects (e.g., erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, infertility), younger men who have been diagnosed often want to avoid treatment until it is necessary. Watchful waiting, in which men choose to monitor their disease with regular PSA and digital rectal exams (and sometimes a biopsy) while also following a healthy lifestyle, can keep men’s quality of life at its best for as long as possible. If necessary, multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging allows doctors to keep an eye on prostatic lesions when conducting a biopsy and to track any changes. Whether to choose watchful waiting is a decision men need to make with their healthcare providers and loved ones.
Prostate cancer is not just an “old man’s disease.” If you have a prostate, you are at risk for prostate cancer, so stay in tune with your body tuned to your body and see your doctor if you have any concerns or questions.
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