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Prostate Cancer
Treatment Guide™

Coping with Prostate Cancer




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Assessing the Risk for Prostate Cancer

There is no specific prostate cancer cause, however, researchers have identified several risk factors that seem to accompany the development of the disease. Knowing prostate cancer risk factors can help certain men schedule the appropriate testing at an earlier age and catch the disease, if it develops, in an earlier stage.

These risk factors are associated with prostate cancer, but the presence of some, or even all risk factors, does not warrant the eventual development of the disease. The Prostate Cancer Treatment Guide is not intended as a substitute for a consultation with a primary care physician; PCTG is meant to increase awareness of the value of early testing for certain men.

Possible prostate cancer risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Family History
  • Race
  • Diet
  • Location
  • Occupation

Age is directly related to prostate cancer. As age and the size of the prostate gland increase, so do one's chance of developing the disease.

Family history of prostate cancer indicates that a man with one or more first degree relatives has a much higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

Race seems to either increase or decrease one's chance of developing prostate cancer. African-American men have the highest risk in the United States, followed by Caucasian men, then Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian.

Diets that have high levels of animal-based fat (i.e. saturated fat), red meat, and sugar seem to correlate with higher levels of prostate cancer.

Location may play a part in prostate cancer risk. Sweden and Canada have the highest prostate cancer mortality rates, while in the United States, certain areas, such as the northwest and Rocky Mountains, have higher rates of the disease.

Occupation may play a role in risk. Farmers, who are exposed to pesticides, mechanics, welders, and other workers, who are exposed to cadmium, may have a higher risk.

The risk factors of location and occupation are highly debated, while age, family history, and race are usually grounds for a physician to order earlier diagnostic testing. Diet tends to be a more important factor in managing prostate cancer after diagnosis and is usually cause for early PSA testing. Obesity and high levels of body fat are usually associated with heart disease. Men should keep in mind, however, that what is good for the heart is usually good for the prostate gland as well.

Prostate Cancer Risk
Remember that there is no specific prostate cancer cause, but having one or more of the risk factors present may indicate that some men should consider beginning prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing and digital rectal exams (DRE) at age 40 rather than 50. For information of possible prostate cancer prevention, please visit the Prostate Cancer Prevention section in the Prostate Cancer Overview.





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