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Men's Cancers

Early Detection is Critical for Prostate Cancer Survival Rates

It’s essential for men to learn their family history and to start making healthier lifestyle choices now.

September is prostate cancer awareness month in Canada. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men, with one in nine facing a positive diagnosis in their lifetime. 

Dr. Larry Goldenberg, a urologic surgeon and clinical scientist who researches prostate cancer, calls it a silent killer “because it sits deep in the pelvis; prostate cancer can grow silently for months to years. Eventually, it can cause trouble with urination or blood in the urine, but these are signs of later disease. Generally, it does not cause symptoms until it is far advanced.”

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland underneath the urinary bladder and is part of a man’s urinary and reproductive system. Its job is to help create semen; it’s also critical for normal erectile function. 

Learn your family history

Everyone should know their family medical history. Dr. Goldenberg explains, “It is very important, so ask your father and grandfather, while they are still alive, whether anyone on the male side of the family has had prostate issues.” 

“Prostate cancer, particularly in its earliest stages, does not cause symptoms,” says Dr. Goldenberg, “so you need to be checked, and make sure that all of your family members and friends get checked as well. When diagnosed at an early stage, prostate cancer is very curable.”

Preventative health is one of the many reasons why Dr. Goldenberg saw a need to start the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF). Too many men in his care were being treated for serious, complex issues that could have been avoided if they had only made their health more of a priority.

Tools for early detection

“Most healthcare organizations agree that screening should begin at age 50,” says Dr. Goldenberg. “However, a family history of prostate cancer, Black men, or obese men may require earlier screening in their mid-forties due to increased risk.”

To help further improve health awareness and early detection, CMHF created Men’s Health Check. A free, evidence-based tool that identifies risk levels for the most common men’s health conditions, like prostate cancer, heart attack and erectile dysfunction.

Good foods for prostate health

What else can you do to keep your prostate healthy? Dr. Goldenberg says, “Dietary measures can help prevent prostate cancer. Eat more leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, pomegranates, soy protein products, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, bok choy, cabbage and kale), and dark chocolate, and drink green tea or coffee. Foods to limit in your diet include saturated fats (like butter and baked goods) and red or processed meat, which have been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.”

For more information on simple lifestyle changes that can help prevent chronic diseases and conditions like prostate cancer, and to use the Men’s Health Check tool, visit the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation.

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