The Doctor Is In: Prostate Cancer FAQ's

Farjaad M. Siddiq, M.D., Urologist
Farjaad M. Siddiq, M.D., Urologist

What Causes Prostate Cancer?

We still do not know exactly what causes prostate cancer, but researchers have found some risk factors and are trying to learn just how these factors cause prostate cells to become cancerous. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of getting a disease. Risk factors for prostate cancer include age, race, nationality, diet, family history and lack of exercise.

Click here to read more about these known risk factors for prostate cancer.

Can Prostate Cancer Be Prevented?
You may be able to reduce your risk of prostate cancer by eating a diet low in fat and high in vegetables, fruits and grains. Also, getting enough exercise and keeping a healthy weight may help reduce prostate cancer risk.

Helpful articles for attaining a more healthy lifestyle:

Is Prostate Cancer Screening Important?
The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancer early, before it starts to cause symptoms, in the hope that it can be treated more effectively. Prostate cancer exhibits no early warning signs, so screening exams are the only way to detect it.

What is a Biopsy, and When Do I Need One?
If the results of your screening tests are suspicious, your doctor may order a biopsy to determine if there is cancer in your prostate. During a biopsy, your doctor will remove a piece of tissue from your prostate and examine it under a microscope for unusual cell growth. This is the only sure way to determine if your prostate is cancerous.

Is cancer the only disease or condition that can affect my prostate? 
No. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a non-cancerous condition that causes the inner portion of the prostate to grow, which puts pressure on the urethra - the passageway urine uses to leave the body. The result is often urinary problems. Also, Prostatitis is an infection and/or inflammation of the prostate that can affect men of all ages. It is caused by the spread of infection in the bladder or urethra.

Can the foods I eat increase my risk of prostate cancer? 
Yes. Researchers have associated diets high in animal fat and calories with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Is prostate cancer life-threatening? 
Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in men, after lung cancer and colorectal cancer. While 1 man in 6 will get prostate cancer during his lifetime, only 1 man in 34 will die of this disease. The death rate for prostate cancer is going down. And the disease is being found earlier as well.

What tests will I need to check for Prostate Cancer? 
Although every situation is different, the most common tests are prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests and digital rectal exams (DREs). The PSA test checks for a substance produced only by the prostate. Levels of this substance increase when something is wrong.

What's the biggest risk factor for prostate cancer? 
The No. 1 risk factor for prostate cancer is age. The chance of having prostate cancer increases rapidly after age 50. More than 70% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65.

What is watchful waiting? 
Watchful waiting means the prostate cancer is observed closely during regular examinations but is not treated.  Men over 70 who are diagnosed with cancer in its early stages usually require no further treatment, but should continue to undergo watchful waiting. Younger men without other major illness run the greatest risk of having their lives adversely affected by prostate cancer, and they are usually treated aggressively.

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