But it's not harmless... Prostate cancer kills about 30,000 men a year. To protect yourself, I urge you to check for these classic symptoms:
- Frequent urination
- Hesitancy with urination (hard to get started)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Burning with urination
- Pain in the lower back
- Stiffness in the upper legs
If you have these symptoms and you're older than 55, see your doctor to discuss the possibility of prostate cancer.
Ask your doctor to do a digital rectal exam (DRE) - it's not quite as bad as it sounds, just awkward. They should also get the blood level of a molecule called "prostate specific antigen" (PSA). These tests are simple and inexpensive...
Once you have a baseline level of both your prostate anatomy and the PSA test, you can follow things over time. If your symptoms worsen, you can compare to the first test... if the doctor also finds a change, it's time for treatment.
The most important part is finding a doctor who has a good record of catching prostate cancer early. Call a couple local oncologists (cancer doctors) and find out who sends them the most prostate cancer patients. Yes, just call up and ask for the information.
Finally, you should do a couple other things to protect yourself:
Ejaculating more than 12 times a month lowers the risk... 21 times a month is thought to be ideal.
Exercise. Walking just 30 minutes a day lowers your cancer risk.
Vitamin D is associated with decreased cancer risks... get more sunlight
Eat foods known to reduce cancer risk like:
- Tomatoes: high in lycopene, which reduces prostate cancer risk.
- Vegetables: cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, carrots, and parsley are known to lower cancer risks.
- Green tea and even black tea have known antioxidant and anti-cancer properties (from epigallocatechin 3-gallate or EGCG).
If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, strongly consider robotic surgery. The outcomes are identical, but the robotic surgeries are safer with faster recoveries than conventional surgeries. It's also less painful. This site offers a list of urologists who use robotics for their surgery.
Finally, be sure to find a doctor open to nontraditional methods of nurturing prostate health. Certain herbs may play a role in prostate health, but not always. Since I last wrote about its proposed benefits, saw palmetto was determined to be no different than a placebo for a milder prostate disease known as "benign prostate hypertrophy" (fancy term for a swollen prostate)...
The bottom line: avoid doctors that laugh at the notion that herbs might have benefits. But be sure they know the current literature and studies and don't have any financial conflicts with your health.
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