While the average age of prostate cancer diagnosis is 66, rates are rising in men age 55 and younger. In my own case, I was initially diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 54, which is now over twenty years ago. Here are a few things to consider about screening, treatment and prevention.
1) It can be more aggressive. Most men with early-onset prostate cancer are diagnosed with low-risk disease, a University of Michigan study found. But among certain types that strike at a younger age, tumors appear to grow more quickly and be more lethal.
2) Early detection is recommended. Prostate cancer diagnosed in younger men has a strong genetic component e.g. variants in genes such as BRCA2 or BRCA1. Men with a family history of the disease are known to be at higher risk. Certain ethnic groups such as Scandinavians and African-American men among others have a somewhat higher overall risk of prostate cancer. For men with average risk, discussions with doctors about prostate cancer screening should take place at age 50, according to the American Cancer Society. But men at higher risk should consider screening at age 45.
3) Screening tests such as a PSA blood test and a digital rectal examination are simple and should be carried out in consultation with one’s personal physician.
4) Early prostate cancer doesn’t usually cause any symptoms but remember we are our own best physicians. Therefore we should always notice any unusual symptoms as they arise and discuss them with our physician.
5) Men with male-pattern baldness may have a slightly higher risk of developing fatal prostate cancer compared to men with a full head of hair, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. However, the study author concludes that much more follow-up research is needed to better understand the possible overlap between hair loss, male-hormone levels and disease risk. “Men of any age and any balding status need not be additionally concerned about their individual risk of prostate cancer.”
6) In some cases, early treatment may help later in life.
7) Watchful waiting (active surveillance) can work. For many men, active surveillance – close monitoring with new visualization technologies like multi-parametric MRI that make it more accurate to know whether a tumor is progressing – is a very good choice for many men with early prostate cancer.
8) Lifestyle factors such as being physically active, trying to maintain a healthy weight and choosing healthy foods, is a key.
For additional details, see the full length article linked herein.