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Detecting and Diagnosing Prostate Cancer

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Some day medical science will advance to the point where researchers will be able to say with some certainty what causes prostate cancer and identify ways to prevent it. And that will be a great day indeed. But the problem is, since an estimated 500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every day, is there anything men can do to protect themselves on this day?

Fortunately the answer to that question is yes. Even without having all the answers there are some common sense strategies men can follow that will lower the odds of prostate cancer and the best thing about these strategies is they require nothing more than the individual’s desire to stay healthy by eating well, being informed, and having regular checkups and tests for the disease.

Its true researchers have not established a direct link between prostate cancer and certain foods, but there is a large amount of research that shows a nutritious diet, low in fat from meat and dairy products, and high in fruits and vegetables lowers the risks of all cancers as well as a host of other adverse medical conditions. There is also some evidence that Vitamin E and trace elements of selenium do lower the risk of prostate cancer. It just makes sense that a healthy diet can reduce the risks of prostate cancer.

In addition to diet another weapon against prostate cancer is knowledge. And it would seem logical that entails knowing the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer. But the life saving knowledge when it comes to prostate cancer is there are few if any signs of the disease while it is still confined to the prostate gland. And since the most important indicator of successful treatment of prostate cancer is early detection, waiting until there is trouble urinating or some other physical symptom can mean delayed diagnosis.

That puts the patient at a disadvantage when early detection of all cancers and especially prostate cancer improve the odds of dealing with the disease successfully. In cases of prostate cancer catching the disease before it spreads beyond the prostate greatly increases the odds of long-term survival.

But the only way men can be sure of catching prostate cancer early is with regular screenings such as PSA blood test, to detect high levels of the protein in the blood stream, and digital rectal exams (DRE) that can alert the doctor to abnormalities. There may be some natural aversion to these tests, especially the DRE which can be slightly uncomfortable because the doctor actually feels inside the rectum for tumors, but that minor discomfort pales in comparison to the advantage of detecting prostate cancer early.

Once the suspicion of prostate cancer presents itself biopsies of tissue can confirm the presence of cancer cells. And then when cancer is present other tests will determine the stage and grade of the cancer. The stage of prostate cancer is how far the cancer has spread which can be determined by bone scans, CT or CAT scans, MRI and biopsy of lymph nodes. The grade of the cancer refers to how aggressive the cancer is, or in other words how fast it is spreading. The stage and grade of prostate cancer indicates which treatment options will be most successful.

The key to all this of course is early detection which rests with the individual who must recognize the danger of prostate cancer and be willing to take the simple steps like eating a healthy diet, having annual checkups and tests, (especially after age 50) and just talking with a doctor to ask questions and stay informed.

We all look forward to the day when medical science knows what causes prostate cancer and how to prevent it. But until then these simple steps can help avoid or survive prostate cancer today.

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