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Medical Prostate Cancer

Risk Factors Which Have Little Effect On Prostate Cancer

What Cause Prostate Cancer?

There have been many attempts to establish links between various factors and the risk for prostate cancer. The factors listed below are what many would think are risk factors for prostate cancer, but in reality they have little or no effect on the risk for developing prostate cancer.

Vasectomy

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure performed to make a man infertile. Some studies have suggested that men who had a vasectomy before the age of 35 may have a slightly increased risk for prostate cancer.

However, results of studies to establish this link have been mixed and are not strong enough to warrant recommendation that men wait to have this procedure or reverse the procedure.

Smoking

As cigarette smoke contains cancer-causing chemicals (also called carcinogens), some scientists thought smoking may be a risk factor of prostate cancer. In reality, smoking increases your risk of developing lung cancer, as well as other cancers, such as prostate cancer.

Although men who smoke may have a higher mortality rate from prostate cancer than non-smokers, evidence does not suggest a link between smoking and the development of prostate cancer. Smoking has been clearly linked to other illnesses including cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, bladder, kidney, pancreas, and stomach, as well as heart disease, pneumonia, cataracts, and a serious from of gum disease called periodontitis.

Sexual Activity

 This leads to many men asking if a man’s level of sexual activity has any impact on his risk for developing prostate cancer.

Different groups of men have been studied in an effort to establish if sexual activity is a prostate cancer risk factor. Studies on married men with or without children, unmarried men with one or more sexual partners, young men, older men and so on did not provide any strong evidence of a relationship between sexual activity or inactivity and the risk for prostate cancer.

Viruses And Other Infections

Many viruses can infect the prostate, just as they can infect any other tissue in the body. Viral infections can cause inflammation and problems with urination.

However, there are few reports of these infections resulting in higher risk of prostate cancer. Recent studies have looked at a potential relationship between HPV infections in men and the risk of prostate cancer. However, results are inconclusive and more studies are expected to be conducted over the next few years.

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Medical Prostate Cancer

Digital Rectal Examination Of The Prostate

A digital rectal examination of the prostate allows a doctor or experienced health care professional to determine if the prostate is enlarged, hard, or see if there are any irregularities in it. The digital rectal examination procedure also gives your doctor an idea of how extensive any abnormality of the prostate might be and helps the doctor to plan and direct a potential biopsy, in which a sample of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope. Additional testing can determine the cause of any abnormality.

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The prostate gland is located just in front of the rectum, which means that part of it can be felt through the rectum. The doctor gently places a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the part of the prostate that is just under the skin of the rectum. A digital rectal examination (DRE) should be performed as part of any screening process for prostate cancer and should be performed by a physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner who is experienced in performing these procedures.

A digital rectal examination can help detect both prostate and rectal cancer. The digital rectal examination and standard screening is often part of a thorough physical examination of an adult man. The DRE is also used after a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer to help determine if the cancer has spread beyond his prostate gland and is used to detect cancer that has returned after treatment.

What Does A Digital Rectal Examination Involve?

The doctor may ask you to bend over the edge of the examination table or lie on the table on your side with your knees held close to your chest for this procedure. The procedure may cause some discomfort, but it is not painful and is usually very brief.

Why Is A Digital Rectal Examination Needed?

DRE and PSA testing are usually done together because neither test alone provides adequate testing for prostate cancer. About one fifth of prostate cancers do not produce enough PSA to make the blood PSA level abnomal. The PSA test therefore may not detect these cases.

DRE alone does not provide adequate screening for prostate cancer. It is difficult for a doctor’s finger to reach all parts of the prostate gland through the rectum, although it reaches the back part of the gland, where most prostate cancers begin. Small prostate cancers may be difficult to feel and therefore difficult to detect through DRE.

To give you a better idea of what is involved in a DRE, watch the digital rectal examination video by a doctor who explains what to expect from a DRE.

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Prostate Cancer

Three Ways To Prevent Prostate Cancer

How To Prevent Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is influenced by a number of different factors. It is therefore not possible to identify a single reason why prostate cancer occurs. However, there are three ways to prevent prostate cancer or stop the prostate cancer from forming.

How You Can Prevent Prostate Cancer

1) Blocking The Effects Of Hormones

Hormones appear to play a role in the development of prostate cancer. High levels of androgens may encourage the development of prostate cancers in some men.

Finasteride (Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart) are drugs that lower the body’s levels of a potent androgen called DHT. Both drugs are used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

One large study found that finasteride reduced the risk of developing prostate cancer by about 25 percent. Men at risk for prostate cancer are encouraged to consult their doctors about how to prevent prostate cancer with the use of finasteride in their own situation.

2) Diet For Prevention Of Prostate Cancer

Some cases of prostate cancer might be prevented by altering potential risk factors such as diet. 

Men who eat a lot of red meat or who consume a lot of dairy products appear to have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer, including a more aggressive form of prostate cancer.

Eating five or more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day is also recommended. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which block the actions of free radicals that can damage cells.

Lycopene, an antioxidant, is believed to help prevent prostate cancer. High levels of lycopene can be found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon.

Beans, along with whole-grain bread, cereals, wholemeal pasta and brown rice are other healthy dietary choices. Dietary soy such as tofu, soybeans or soy milk may also lower prostate cancer risk by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.

Vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as the mineral selenium, actually reduce prostate cancer risk. Talk to your doctor before taking any dietary supplements or high-dose vitamins.

3) Exercise

The best way to prevent prostate cancer or any other disease is regular exercise. Although it has not been clearly established that regular exercise reduces a man’s risk of prostate cancer, keeping fit will help maintain a healthy weight and heart. Reducing body fat and lowering male hormone levels may indirectly lead to a reduction in prostate cancer risk.

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Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines And Tests

What Are The Test To Carry Out?

Since the early 1990s, the American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association have recommended two prostate cancer screening tests:

1) The Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)

This is a physical examination in which the doctor inserts his or her gloved finger into the rectum to detect any irregularity in the nearby prostate gland’s surface.

2) The Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test

This prostate cancer screening test is a blood test that measures levels of a protein made by the prostate. Prostate -specific antigen testing uses chemical methods to provide a PSA number indicating how much of the protein is in the blood.

A combination of both the DRE and PSA is most effective in finding prostate cancer. Screening for prostate cancer in men without symptoms can detect tumors at an earlier stage, allowing for earlier treatment and potentially more favorable results.

Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines

  • It is recommended that a baseline screening be done at age 40 and possibly again at age 45 before beginning annual prostate cancer screening at age 50.
  • Annual prostate cancer screening is recommended after the age of 50 for men who have at least a 10-year life expectancy.
  • Men at high risk, such as African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an age younger than 65, should begin prostate cancer screening tests at age 45.
  • Men at even higher risk (with several first-degree relatives who had prostate cancer at an early age) could begin testing at age 40. If the results of this initial prostate cancer screening test are less than 1 ng/ml, further testing might not be needed until age 45.
  • Understand from your doctor the benefits, side effects and potential risks of PSA screening.
  • Ask questions regarding early prostate cancer detection and treatment so that you can make informed decisions about testing.
  • As discussed earlier, digital rectal examination (DRE) and Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) testing are most effective when used together to detect prostate cancer.
  • A PSA of less than 4.0 ng/ml does not mean that you do not have prostate cancer.
  • Conversely, an abnormal DRE or a high PSA level does not necessarily mean that you do have prostate cancer. Some elevations in PSA may be due to benign (not cancerous) conditions of the prostate. If you do have a PSA result of 4.0 ng/ml or higher, your doctor will work with you to determine the cause of this elevated PSA level.
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Prostate Cancer

Cause Of Prostate Cancer

Is Working The Graveyard Shift A Cause Of Prostate Cancer?

The causes of prostate cancer are hormone-dependent, just like breast cancer. While male and female hormones are crucial to prostate and breast cancer development respectively, female hormones also play a role in prostate cancer while male hormones also play a role in breast cancer.

Both cancers are also impacted by another hormone called melatonin, which is linked with the sleep-wakefulness cycle. A link between breast cancer in women and night shift work has been established. Working at night exposes women to light when they should be asleep in the dark. It is also believed that men working night shifts and exposed to “light pollution” may increase the risk of contracting prostate cancer.

At night, the body’s internal clock says it should be dark. But when exposed to light at night, the brain produces less melatonin. Melatonin serves a critical function in suppressing cancer formation in other organs at the gene level.

Melatonin

Melatonin ins produced in a tiny body located at the brain’s centre called the pineal gland. A grain-size group of neurons in the brain which serves as our internal clock tells the pineal gland to produce melatonin. This internal clock is reset by natural light outside that we encounter every morning on waking up.

This internal clock serves as our body’s chief biological pacemaker, synchonizing all our internal biorhythms, even at tissue and cellular levels, to a 24-hour circadian cycle. We human beings are active during the day and are programmed to sleep at night. Our bodily functions are timed so that the most important biorhythms such as alertness, metabolism and performance are optimal during the day, while sleep is optimal at night. DNA synthesis, healing, recovery and renewal occurs mainly at night.

The resetting of the internal clock takes place every morning when one wakes up and the eyes perceive natural sunlight outside. This natural light is the cue the pacemaker needs to tell the pineal gland to pace itself so it produces the most melatonin at night.

However, if the pineal gland is routinely stimulated by light at night, it might be tricked into turning down or even switching off its melatonin production. When this happens, all our bio-rhythms including those of our sex hormone levels and genes known to be controlled by circadian rhythms, become unregulated.

Over years of shift work, his kind of pacemaker resetting throws cellular biorhythms into disarray. In this way, the prostate in men and breasts in women may become more susceptible to cancer development. A link between light pollution and lymphoma has also been observed.

Body Checkup

About 10% of genes are directly subject to this chief pacemaker’s oversight. These circadian genes help to suppress cancer formation. In particular, the Per1 gene is known to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells. When the functioning of such genes is disrupted by light pollution, the bio-rhythms of sex hormone levels may also go awry. This may affect some other circadian genes as well. This could in turn cause prostate cancer.

Recent epidemiological studies in Japan and the United States suggest that workers who have to rotate shifts face a higher risk of prostate cancer compared to those who have day shifts only or night shifts only. In March 2009, the Danish government agreed to compensate 40 female nurses and flight attendants with breast cancer who had worked a night shift at least once a week for 20 years. It may be a matter of time that prostate cancer sufferers who have worked night shifts for years will also be eligible for compensation.