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Overview

What Every Man Should Know

Every man should know the truth about prostate cancer. Unfortunately, it is often hard to separate the facts from the fallacies. If you or someone you know has prostate cancer, it is important to get the facts about this disease and its treatments, because if caught early, prostate cancer is one of the most treatable malignancies.

While all of the reasons as to why men may develop prostate cancer are unknown, certain risk factors, including age, race (it is more common in African Americans and less common in Asian Americans than in Caucasians), a family history and certain dietary tendencies have been identified. Fortunately, there are now better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent the disease.

The prostate gland enlarges as men age. It is difficult to distinguish symptoms of an enlarging prostate caused by cancerous or non-cancerous growth. Since most cancers arise in the outer portion of the gland, an abnormality often may be felt by your physician on a digital rectal exam (DRE).

Growing evidence indicates that there are positive actions you can take to prevent prostate cancer from developing. These include avoiding diets that are very high in red meat and fat and increasing certain fruits and vegetables into the diet such as soy products, cooked tomatoes and cruciferous vegetables. Taking modest amounts of vitamins, especially Vitamin E and D, appear to be beneficial.

Wilmot Cancer Institute, in partnership with UR Medicine’s Department of Urology, is the leader in prostate cancer care in the region and is actively conducting research to improve care. Our surgeons perform the most prostatectomies, for example, and our clinical research team is studying ways to reduce treatment toxicities for men.

Prevention

There is no sure way to prevent prostate cancer. Risk factors such as age, race, and family history are out of our control. But several controllable prevention strategies are recommended: staying physically active, eating a heart-healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. Getting enough folate through foods is important.

Taking certain vitamins and minerals has been studied to prevent prostate cancer. Neither vitamin E nor selenium has proven to be effective. Lycopene has also been studied, but the results are mixed. Multivitamins have been studied and, in fact, taking multivitamins more than seven times a week can increase the risk of advanced prostate cancer.  In general, supplements come with risks and benefits, and it's important to talk to your doctor before taking them.

Some drugs might help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. For example, finasteride and dutasteride are used to treat non-cancerous growth of the prostate. Research shows, however, that although taking the drugs result in fewer prostate cancers, when prostate cancer did develop it tended to be more aggressive. Those drugs reduce the levels of male sex hormones in the body and cause side effects such as erectile dysfunction, loss of sex drive, and enlarged breasts. Studies also suggest that aspirin might help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, but more research is needed.