While society evolves technologically, we’re still battling chronic disease – largely because medicine helps us live longer.
Almost one in two men over 60 will suffer from prostate cancer. It’s a leading cause of cancer deaths and reportedly escalating – although these numbers could also be a result of increased screening.
The positive side is that survival is double what it was 40 years ago, and sufferers will likely live for over a decade after diagnosis. Cancer care is developing exponentially – but some say too much attention is given to lower-risk cancers, given the lifestyle choices we can make to curb it before needing to see a urologist.
Postponing treatment might not be an unthinkable or high-risk option for many men with early-stage prostate cancer – there’s a high chance they’ll remain out of mortal danger, possibly even passing away from other natural causes in the 20 years following diagnosis.
Where’s The Cancer Coming From?
Our lives are both busier and more sedentary than ever. With work, kids, and commitments… we exercise less, sleep irregularly, and rely on convenience food.
Diet, stress, and exercise are the biggest contributing factors in preventing cancer – not to mention avoiding recreational relief in cigarettes and alcohol. Being aware of our bodies and learning to notice changes equips us to avoid cancer – or catch it early.
Since we’re able to make so many essential lifestyles change ourselves, the question arises – which cancer cases receive excessive attention, and which need greater focus?
Of course, you may not be experiencing cancer symptoms but benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which causes increased night urination, difficulty urinating, an inconsistent stream and weaker bladder behavior.
Either way, you can keep your prostate healthy or counteract swelling by improving your way of life. Today, stress is the main contributor to disease.
Enjoying activities and interactions outside your routine is vital – clear your mind through practices like meditation, yoga and alternative hobbies.
30 daily minutes or more of varied aerobic and resistance-based exercises help you lose weight and combat BPH symptoms.
Counter the estrogen increase that accompanies aging with supplements to help regulate hormones, improve your immune system and naturally diminish prostate inflammation.
Eating right is key. Foods high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids help reduce swelling – think fish like tuna, salmon, and anchovies. Cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli and cauliflower help, as do foods with healthy fats like seeds, nuts, olives, and avocados.
Stay away from spicy foods, processed grains, and caffeine, which can amplify pain and worsen other prostate symptoms.
Explaining Over treatment Of Cancer
Many prostate cancers are considered low-risk localized diseases, so over treating such cases over-utilizes health organizations’ staff and resources.
CNN referred to overtreatment as an epidemic in 2014. Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing has unearthed more and more previously undiagnosed prostate cancers – many of which may not have caused perceptible harm if left undetected.
Fear pushes many to undergo unwarranted surgical and radiographic treatments – despite potential side effects like erectile dysfunction and incontinence.
Results from Buffalo University’s 11-point Distress Thermometer – 0=no distress, 10=extreme distress – showed how fear levels led to treatment choices.
To examine how specialty care could be improved while reducing overheads, Parth K Modi of Michigan University and his team investigated US accountable care organizations (ACOs).
They found that 9% of recently diagnosed patients received over treatment across 137 ACOs. ACOs that consistently consulted with urologists weren’t as likely to overtreat as ACOs that continued to over treat men with non-cancer related risk of death.
Progress In Cancer Care
‘Lifetime cancer risk’ means the odds of a child receiving a cancer diagnosis during their life.
The UK’s incredible cancer registration database allows more accurate predictions of lifetime cancer risk.
British research scientists like Professor Peter Sasieni continue to develop cancer risk modeling to more exactly evaluate which cancer cases are clinically meaningful.
David Penson, MD, MPH of the University of Southern emphatically stated that prostate cancer deaths had noticeably fallen off since 1993, echoed by eight other US physicians.
This is good news for tackling more insidious cancers – which prostate cancer isn’t always included with.
Reassessing Treatment Levels
Active surveillance is recommended for low-risk cases as a way of monitoring prostate cancer that hasn’t spread outside the prostate. Of course, it’s difficult to enforce due to patient concern.
According to the Royal College of Surgeons’ National Prostate Cancer Audit, 90% of UK men were happy with treatment received from NHS – but this highlighted how many over treated, low-risk patients there may be with localized disease.
Prostate Cancer UK’s 2016 ProtecT trial offered men active surveillance as a legitimate alternative they could feel confident in.
While not excluding the options of surgery and radiotherapy, it aims to reduce unnecessary or overtreatment.
Active surveillance isn’t always a cut and dried approach with regards to how patients actually deal with their condition every day.
They may continue to suffer symptoms such as incontinence, occasional urinary bleeding, and discomfort in the bladder/prostate region.
While some cases are overdiagnosed, others merit medical attention and are better caught early.
The NPCA noted that erectile dysfunction and feeling emotional are other symptoms of an enlarged prostate as well as of treatments, and we echo their call that these men should have early and ongoing access to relevant services and treatment.
What’s Next For Me?
Patients should remember that active surveillance closely follows the cancer’s potential development, and that treatment is an option should the cancer become aggressive.
Adjusting and improving lifestyles contributes hugely to preventing and dealing with low-risk prostate cancer and aids the active surveillance process.
Doctors need to fully inform men on their condition, how to handle the associated anxiety and how premature treatments can have negative effects. Patients should heed this advice and ask as many questions as possible to fully grasp what they’re being told.
Ideally, this will help them choose treatments according to preferences and values rather than pure stress.
Ultimately, understand your body and prostate condition and make those important daily health adjustments to keep thoughts of cancer or, at the very least, symptoms at manageable levels.
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