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Early Detection and Treatment of Prostate Cancer are Key to Recovery Among Men

It’s a scientific fact: As men get older, they are more likely to develop prostate cancer. Studies show that men older than 65 are the most susceptible to developing prostate cancer. However, there are exceptions.

“In addition to age, studies show that family history and race — especially if you’re African American — play a major role in men who develop prostate cancer,” said Dr. Kirk Tamaddon, area medical director and chief of staff, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Service area.

“We know that prostate cancer is most common in men older than 50. But men who are younger than that are not immune from developing prostate cancer. That’s why it’s important to discuss testing and examination with your doctor. That’s critically important because prostate cancer typically doesn’t show any symptoms in its early stages. As such, and as is the case with other types of cancers, treatment works best with an early diagnosis.”

Santana Aguilar credits his ongoing recovery from prostate cancer to regular screenings and early treatment. Aguilar, 79, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February after returning home from a trip to Mexico.

“I was surprised and I was fearful because I lost my wife less than two years ago, and I didn’t want to die from cancer,” he said.

Thanks to early discovery and treatment, Aguilar is on his way to recovery, currently undergoing a combination of hormone therapy and daily radiation treatments to shrink and eliminate the tumor.

June is National Men’s Health Month, a time to remind men of the health issues they face and what they can do to take charge of their health.

Dr. Tamaddon notes prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s also one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among men of all races. In fact, out of every 100 American men, about 13 will get prostate cancer during their lifetime, and about 2 to 3 men will die fromprostate cancer.

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control. Because it often grows slowly, it can take years for the prostate to grow large enough to cause health problems. “Most men are unaware they have prostate cancer until it’s detected during Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test screening or a regular medical exam,” Dr. Tamaddon said. “Difficulty with urination is not always a sign of prostate cancer, but a good reason to start the conversation with your doctor about prostate cancer screening.”

Dr. Tamaddon urges men to see their doctor for a prostate checkup if they:

  • Are age 50 or older.
  • Have family history of prostate cancer (specially father or brother).
  • Have frequent urination, especially at night.
  • Experience pain or burning during urination.
  • Are unable to urinate at all.
  • See blood in their urine or semen.
  • Have deep or frequent pain in their lower back, stomach, hip or pelvis.

There are actions you can take to reduce or delay the risk of developing prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, men should:

  • Eat healthy: Eat mostly plant-based food and less animal products (meat, dairy). Eat at least 2 1/2 cups of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day, including cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, which are linked to lowering the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Be physically active: Heart-healthy is prostate-healthy. Men who are physically active have a slightly reduced risk of developing prostate cancer and have reduced chances of heart disease.
  • Stay at a healthy weight: Though the connection to weight is unclear, men who are overweight have a higher risk of developing a terminal prostate cancer.

“I encourage men with a family history and those above age 50 to discuss the need for a prostate cancer screening with their doctor,” Dr. Tamaddon said. “The reason is that early detection and treatment can be the difference between severe illness and complications and a full recovery.