September is prostate cancer awareness month and we are talking about the signs, symptoms and treatments of this very common disease.
The cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but what is known is that prostate cancer occurs when there is a change in the DNA. DNA tells the cells what to do. The abnormal cells will grow and divide more quickly than normal cells. These abnormal cells will continue to live while the normal cells die. The accumulating abnormal cells will form a tumor sometimes invading other nearby tissue. Other times these abnormal cells will spread to other areas of the body.
The prostate is a small walnut shaped gland that produces the fluid that transports the sperm.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and one of the slowest growing cancers. Many types of prostate cancer are confined to the prostate and may not need treatment. More aggressive prostate cancer can spread quickly and will require treatment.
Who is at risk?
- Men over the age of 50
- African American men are at greater risk and it’s often more aggressive
- Family history-If a blood relative has (had) it, you are at greater risk
- If you carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene
- If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, you may be at increased risk
- If you are obese you have a higher risk of getting prostate cancer and it’s more likely to be aggressive, requiring additional treatment after the initial treatment.
Some facts about prostate cancer
- 60% of the cases diagnosed are in men older than age 65
- Prostate cancer is rarely diagnosed in men younger than 40 years old
- Most prostate cancers are curable.
It is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States with an estimated 34,500 deaths this year. In 2020 death from prostate cancer was an estimated 375,304 worldwide. However, death from prostate cancer has seen a decline in the last 30 years due to the advancement made in screenings and tests. There are more than 3.1 million survivors in the United States today.
Prostate cancer in the lower stages (local or regional) has a 5-year survival rate of nearly 100% versus metastatic cancer at a survival rate of 31%.
Symptoms you should watch for
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force of stream
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Bone pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Erectile Dysfunction
Getting a diagnosis
If you have any of these symptoms and they persist you should see your doctor.
First comes the screening tests such as a prostate specific antigen test (PSA) which is a blood test or a digital rectal exam otherwise known as a DRE. Diagnosing prostate cancer can be done in different ways. Your doctor may suggest a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS), MRI, or biopsy.
Your doctor will suggest certain tests and call you back for a follow-up to discuss your test results. Do yourself a favor, when you go for that follow-up visit to get your test results bring someone with you. It’s important to have support from a loved one. If you get a negative result and you don’t have prostate cancer that’s great! You will have someone to celebrate with.
Cancer, the dreaded “C” word that no one wants to hear is life-altering. Suddenly everything changes. You are in shock and you no longer hear what the doctor is saying. Your mind is filled with questions about how you will get through it. Who will take care of your family? How will the medical bills get paid? So, bring your spouse, friend, adult child, or anyone else who can offer you moral support and be a second set of ears. This is extremely important! They will listen to what the doctor is saying and be able to ask questions related to treatment and how to move forward. When your mind is clear and you have gotten over the initial shock this person will be able to communicate to you what the doctor said while your mind was racing.
If your cancer is aggressive your doctor may order other tests such as a Gleason score which is used to evaluate the grade of cancer cells. Genomic testing may also be done. This test determines which gene mutations are present and can give more information regarding prognosis. Information received from Genomic testing can impact or determine treatment decisions. Genomic testing, however, is not widely used.
Other tests that can be done to determine the stage of prostate cancer are bone scans, ultrasounds, CT, MRI and PET scans. These tests can tell your doctor the stage of your prostate cancer and whether or not it has metastasized.
So, what are the treatments for prostate cancer? The answer is, it depends on the stage of your cancer.
Treatment options include
- Active surveillance-holding off on treatment until there is evidence of disease progression
- Radiation therapy-high levels of radiation are used to kill cancer cells-minimizing damage to healthy cells.
- Hormone therapy-androgen suppression therapy, reduces the level of male hormones to stop them from fueling cancer cell growth.
- Cryosurgery- is an outpatient procedure that freezes the prostate cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy-drug therapy is usually used to treat aggressive cancer.
- And surgery such as robotic prostatectomy or radical prostatectomy-surgery to remove the prostate gland
You may experience side effects or complications from the disease itself or from the treatment you and your doctor decide on. Some of these complications in addition to metastatic cancer are incontinence, erectile dysfunction, pain and swelling in the scrotum, blood in the urine, injury to the rectum and blockage of the urethra causing urinary retention. Some doctors may suggest pelvic floor therapy before surgery to help with incontinence after surgery.
You might be asking yourself if there is anything you can do to prevent prostate cancer. Diet alone may not prevent prostate cancer, however, eating a healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables and whole grains can help lower your risk of getting it. Choosing healthy food over supplements and getting plenty of exercise can help reduce your risk.
In our blog, we usually try and find a couple of recipes to make that will lend support to the sufferer. So, this month we have chosen two recipes that either help in maintaining a healthy diet or are soothing to a patient going through treatment.
Creamy chia Greek Yogurt Pudding with Raspberry Puree
Chia Greek Yogurt Pudding
- 1 cup non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons raw honey
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons chia seeds
- 1 1/4 cups fresh raspberries
- 1 tablespoon organic sugar
- To make Chia Greek Yogurt Pudding, whisk together Greek yogurt, coconut milk, vanilla and honey in a medium bowl. Stir in chia seeds and mix well. Divide among serving glasses. Chill in refrigerator overnight.
- Combine raspberries and sugar in a bowl. Smash together until raspberries are crushed. Spoon raspberry puree on top of Chia Greek Yogurt Pudding before serving.
Slow Cooker Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Quinoa Risotto
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked and rinsed
- 1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 cups sliced mushrooms
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (plus up to 1 cup additional, if needed at the end)
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. each of dried thyme, basil and oregano
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil*
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon or 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 4 cups roughly chopped, packed spinach
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Place all ingredients except spinach and cheese in slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.
- When almost done cooking, the liquid should be absorbed, and the mixture should be slightly sticky. If very sticky, add up to 1 cup additional broth and stir to combine until texture is creamy.
- Stir in spinach and cheese, cover and continue cooking just until spinach begins to wilt (about 2-5 minutes).
*May substitute coconut oil with oil of your choice.
This dish can be made vegan by omitting the chicken, swapping chicken broth for vegetable broth and replacing the Parmesan cheese with ¼ cup nutritional yeast.
Quinoa risotto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
If you are going through treatment like chemotherapy for prostate cancer or any cancer really, it’s important to eat so you can keep up your strength to fight the fight. Chemotherapy and other medications taken for treatment can sometimes rob you of your sense of taste or make your food have a metallic flavor, making food unappetizing. Anything that can be done to entice you to want to eat is a good thing. So, try these recipes and see the links below for more recipes.
Acupuncture doesn’t prevent cancer but it can aid in the symptoms related to prostate cancer such as nausea and vomiting and anxiety due to chemotherapy. It can also help control cancer-related pain, insomnia, lethargy and hot flashes. So, if you are dealing with these symptoms acupuncture might be worth checking into.
This blog is not intended to give medical advice. If you notice any of these symptoms and they are persistent or you have a family history, then please call your doctor to discuss your risk factors.
For more information on prostate cancer, check out these links. For cancer support groups, please check out the links for the Dempsey Center and Maine Health, they offer much needed support for cancer patients and their families.
We at MassageCraft wish you good health and happiness.
For support services here are a couple of links.