Raising Awareness About Prostate Cancer
March is all about you, lads! It’s prostate cancer awareness month and it’s really important that we raise awareness about this disease.
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a small gland which is exclusive to men. It produces a thick fluid which mixes with sperm to make semen. It is only small, approximately the size of a walnut, but enlarges as men age.
The prostate is located around the tube which transports urine out of the body, known as the (urethra).
How common is prostate cancer?
In men, prostate cancer is the most common cancer and around 40,000 new cases of the disease are diagnosed each year. The condition is more common as men get older, usually over the age of 65 but the risk increases after the age of 50.
Some men are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer such as:
- Men who have a dad or a brother who developed prostate cancer under the age of 60
- Having a close female relative who has had breast cancer may increase the risk of prostate cancer in men
- Being of African-Caribbean or African descent
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
- Needing to pee more often than usual, especially during the night
- Difficulty starting to pee
- Needing to rush to the toilet
- Weak flow when peeing
- Taking longer than usual to pee
- Feeling like your bladder is not emptied fully
- Blood in urine or semen
It’s important to note that these symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. That’s because the prostate can get bigger with age which can cause these symptoms but maybe a benign condition known as prostate enlargement.
Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so often the outlook is positive. However, some men feel embarrassed about talking about issues relating to their sexual, urinary or bowel health. Therefore, it’s always good to talk about issues like prostate cancer and raise awareness.
Can a healthy lifestyle reduce the risk?
Leading a healthy lifestyle is the best way to keep your risk of illness, including prostate cancer, low. The recommendations for preventing prostate cancer are like those which are suggested for better general health.
Dietary recommendations are like those for cardiovascular health. For example, increasing fruit and vegetable intake as well as whole grains and reducing saturated fat and red meat consumption.
Exercise is also an important factor. Lots of research has shown that increasing physical exercise can reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men by up to 30%. The current NHS guidelines state that adults aged 16-64 should:
- Participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity
- Plus strengthening exercise at least twice per week
- Aim to be physically active every day, even if it’s just for a short while
Diet and exercise are closely linked and bring about many positive health benefits. It’s also important to stay hydrated. Water is the most important nutrient and keep your body systems working effectively, including the immune system.
March is prostate cancer awareness month. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the disease. However, the risk of developing it can be reduced by leading a healthy lifestyle like a healthy, balanced diet, a good amount of physical exercise and staying hydrated.
Ballon-Landa, E and Kellogg Parsons, J. (2017). Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Lifestyle Factors in Prostate Cancer Prevention. Prevention in Urology: 27(0).
Grӧnberg, H. (2003). Prostate Cancer Epidemiology. The Lancet: 361, pp 859-864.
National Health Service. (2019). Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults Aged 19 to 64. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/
National Health Service. (2018). Prostate Problems. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/prostate-problems/