If you’re a man in your mid-40s or older and have not undergone a prostate exam, you should consider doing so as soon as possible. To understand why such testing is critical for men in these age groups, we only have to look to a study published by the American Cancer Society. According to the study data, by the end of 2021, roughly 250,000 men are likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Of those, an estimated 34,000 are likely to lose their life to the disease.
The data further notes that these new prostate cancer cases and associated deaths will consist primarily of men in their 40s and older. While we are on the topic, it seems only appropriate to note that prostate cancer is the second-most-common cause of death among men in the United States when it comes to cancer-related deaths, lung cancer being the first. Colon, pancreas, and liver cancer make up the third, fourth, and fifth of the most deadly cancers among men, respectively.
Who Is Most at Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer?
Before delving into what prostate cancer is and why it is so common, let’s take an even closer look at just how prevalent the disease is in America. In terms of scale, the over 34,000 men expected to die from prostate cancer by the end of 2021 is about the same number of people that could fill a Major League Baseball stadium. And that averages out to roughly 91 deaths each day or about one man dying every 16 minutes. Of course, this is all based on future projections. Currently, some 3 million men in America are reportedly living with this life-altering disease. While all men are at risk of developing prostate cancer as they get older, the risk is higher for some than others. And several things go into explaining why this is the case.
Firstly, some men never undergo a digital rectal exam (DRE), which can help detect prostatic nodules that sometimes turn into cancer. Second, prostate cancer can be hereditary for some men, which means that they have inherited gene mutations that make it highly likely that they will fall victim to the disease. And this is backed by a study published by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which revealed that 5 to 10 percent of all men diagnosed with prostate cancer inherited gene mutations that predisposed them to the disease.
Along with inherited gene mutations and forgoing routine prostate exams, a man’s race can also increase their likelihood of developing prostate cancer. Studies show that African-American and Hispanic men are at a higher risk of developing and ultimately dying from prostate cancer. Asian men, when compared to their Caucasian counterparts, African-American, and Hispanic men, are less likely to develop or die from prostate cancer.
What Is Prostate Cancer and Why Is It So Common?
The long and short of it is that prostate cancer, aside from targeting the prostate gland, specifically, is not too dissimilar from other cancers in that it occurs as a result of changes in DNA, which is precipitated by cells within the prostate dividing uncontrollably. Along with age and race, hormone imbalances can trigger this out of control cell division that ultimately gives way to prostate cancer. For example, a study published by Science Daily revealed that men over 40 with high testosterone levels, meaning 1,100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) and above, are at risk of developing prostate cancer. High testosterone levels in men can result from any of the following:
- Adrenal tumors
- Testicular tumors
- Anabolic steroid abuse
- Misusing testosterone supplements
Can High HGH Levels Be a Reason For Developing Prostate Cancer?
Along with high testosterone, above-average human growth hormone (HGH) levels, 10 ng/dL or more, can also increase a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer. The most common cause of high growth hormone levels in men is pituitary and nonpituitary tumors. Alongside elevated Growth hormone and testosterone levels, above-average estrogen levels, which refers to estradiol levels above 40 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL) and estrone levels above 50 pg/ml, can potentially cause prostate cancer, notes a study published by the National Institutes of Health. Get deeper into the topic and discover if there any link between prostate cancer and hgh levels.
Real and Fake Causes of Prostate Cancer
One of the misconceptions concerning prostate cancer is that it is more likely to develop if men already have an enlarged prostate. While an enlarged prostate and prostate cancer do trigger many of the same symptoms, such as a weak urine flow, urinary incontinence, and a frequent or urgent need to urinate, for example, the two are not interrelated. And this is substantiated in a study published by the American Cancer Society, which notes that benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), otherwise known as an enlarged prostate, is not linked to prostate cancer and does not increase the likelihood of men developing the disease. Instead, the real risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer stems from aging, genetics, and hormone imbalances, namely high growth hormone, testosterone, and estrogen levels.
Do We Have Effective Remedies for Prostate Cancer?
Many of the same treatments used to cure other cancers are just as effective in treating prostate cancer, which is to say that the ones commonly prescribed by physicians often include one or more of the following:
- Radiation therapy
In cases where a hormone imbalance is responsible for prostate cancer, many physicians will recommend hormonal therapy. For some men, beating prostate cancer might mean having to undergo a prostatectomy, according to many oncologists. For reference, a prostatectomy is a surgical procedure that entails removing the prostate gland and some of the surrounding lymph nodes.
Possible Breakthroughs in Diagnosing and Treating Prostate Cancer: What the Newest Research Is Saying About It
While radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and so on are all mainstays in treating prostate cancer, a new approach to treating the disease might be on the horizon. The same may also be the case for testing and diagnosing it as well. According to an article published by the American Cancer Society, researchers and scientists are closely studying gene mutations to understand further how genetics play into the development of the disease. And this may lead to revolutionary treatments that can target and treat these mutations before they have a chance to give way to prostate cancer.
Researchers and scientists are also looking at 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which are hormonal drugs with powerful androgenic properties, as a possible treatment for men with prostate cancer brought on by a hormone imbalance. Lastly, research is underway concerning whether or not a low-dose, daily aspirin regimen could help keep prostate cancer at bay for some men. All in all, the approach to testing, diagnosing, and ultimately treating prostate cancer might look considerably different in the not too distant future.
In summary, a diagnosis of prostate cancer is both scary and life-altering. However, there is some good news worth noting. Receiving such a diagnosis does not have to mean life is over. And this is because prostate cancer is one of the most survivable cancers. Current data shows the 5-year survival rate is about 98 percent if detected early. That said, if you’re a man in your 40s or older and you have not had a prostate exam, consider scheduling an appointment with an oncologist today. After all, doing so could potentially save your life.