Movember is a month to create awareness for Men’s health.
Why do we need to create this awareness?
There are an increasing number of men suffering from specific conditions unique to men like prostate cancer, testicular cancer and also mental illness. On top of them there are more men dying from these conditions.
In this article, we will touch on prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the 3rd most common cancer diagnosed in males in Singapore and accounts for 12% of all male cancers diagnosed from 2008 to 2018. According to the Singapore Cancer Registry report from 2015, the incidence has been increasing from 9.7 per 100,000 previously to 28.5 per 100,000 in 2008-2012.
Males in Singapore have a higher rate of prostate cancer than their counterparts in Asia, for example, China, Japan and India. Locally, Malay and Indian men appear to have a lower risk of prostate cancer as compared to Chinese men at about 15.9-17.9 per 100,000 as compared to 25.6 per 100,000.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate.
The prostate is a walnut shaped gland located just below the bladder surrounding the urethra. The prostate’s function is to produce seminal fluid. This fluid is necessary to nourish and transport sperm that is produced in the testes.
Who is at risk?
Prostate cancer can affect any man. However some are at higher risk than others.
- Men above 50. The risk of prostate cancer increases with age especially after the age of 50. More than 80% are diagnosed in people 65 years and older.
- Family history of prostate cancer. 20% of prostate cancers occur in men who had a history of prostate cancers in their family. This type of prostate cancer is due to inherited genes and shared environmental or lifestyle factors. Having a brother or father with prostate cancer increases your risk 2 to 3 times. Having a sister or mother with breast or ovarian cancer also increases your risk.
- Ethnicity – Men of African ancestry are at higher risk of prostate cancer compared to men of other races.
- Obesity – Men with BMI higher than 27.5 are at a higher risk for many different types of cancers including prostate cancer. Lack of physical activity and poor eating habits are also contributing factors.
Prostate Cancer Screening
- Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA): This is a blood test that looks out for a protein released by the prostate. This level is usually elevated in benign prostate enlargement, prostate cancer or prostate inflammation.
- Digital rectal examination: This is a medical examination performed by the doctor. The doctor will place his finger gently in the back passage (rectum) to feel the texture and size of the prostate. In prostate cancer it may be enlarged or have abnormal nodules.
- Family history: The doctor will ask for any history of prostate, ovarian or breast cancer in the family.
- Prostate Biopsy: An ultrasound guided biopsy is performed to determine the presence of cancer. This is usually performed if any of the previous screenings mentioned above is suspicious for prostate cancer.
How do we prevent it?
Fruit and vegetables: Consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables has moderately good evidence to reduce prostate cancer risk. Garlic and spring onions has been shown to boost immune system and reduce prostate cancer risk
Lycopene, green tea, soy products and pomegranate: Some limited evidence has shown that the above foods may reduce prostate cancer risk. You can obtain lycopene in cooked or processed tomatoes, watermelon and guavas.
Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity is a known risk factor for prostate cancer. Obese men are at higher risk for developing aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
Stay active: Higher physical activity shows a small to moderate protective effect against developing prostate cancer especially advanced cancer. Exercise helps to boost our antioxidant defense and fight cancer causing changes in the body.
Reduce fat intake: A higher fat intake has been associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer and its progression. By reducing your fat intake from animal and dairy sources, it can improve cardiovascular health and reduce risk of prostate cancer.
Quit Smoking: Smoking has a significant impact on occurrence of prostate cancer that can lead to death. Smokers were 20% more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to non smokers. By not starting or quitting smoking, it reduces your risk of getting advanced prostate cancer.
With the above information, I hope it can help you make the right decision in prevention and screening for prostate cancer. Do consult your doctor if you would like to screen for prostate cancer or if you have any urinary symptoms.