Men above 40 susceptible to prostate cancer

Posted on Mar 11 1999

Men who have reached the age of 40 must take an annual rectal examination for the early detection of prostate cancer. When they reach the age of 50, they must take a PSA or blood test aside from the annual rectal examination

According to Dr. Babak Etemad, a gastroenterology specialist at the Commonwealth Health Center, men on the island are generally not aware of the importance of taking rectal examination. But those who are aware are simply not comfortable with the idea of taking rectal examination, he said.

“There is no information yet available that can tell us whether screening for prostate cancer makes any difference whatsoever to how long a patient will live after his prostate cancer is discovered,” said Etemad. Simply put, no one knows yet if early detection makes a difference.

A major clinical trial currently being carried out by the National Cancer Institute aims to determine whether prostate cancer screening will increase patient survival. However, Etemad said it will be several years before the results of this trial are known, and some people have criticized the way the trial has been conducted.

No one knows what causes some men to get prostate cancer while other men don’t as scientists and clinical researchers are working very hard to discover the answer.

Prostate cancer occurs almost exclusively in men over the age of 40 and is still rare until age 50. Almost half of all me under 70 have at least microscopic prostate tumors. By age 80 to 90, 70 percent to 90 percent of men have such signs.

In the United States, it is the most common male cancer and the second leading cause, after lung cancer, of cancer deaths in men. The lifetime probability of developing prostate cancer is 8 percent.

For many men, the risk of prostate cancer is associated with a family history of the disease. But again, this does not mean that just because your father had prostate cancer, you will get prostate cancer, Etemad said.

Prostate cancer is also much more common in some cares than in others. For example, Japanese men living in Japan have an extremely low incidence of prostate cancer compared to African American men who are at very high risk of this disease.

As men grow older, the chance of having a diagnosis of prostate cancer increases. The average age of men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the US is still over 60 years.

Circumstantial evidence also appear to support the idea that diet is important in the avoidance of prostate cancer. One major study has clearly linked prostate cancer risk with saturated fat intake.

However, Etemad said “there is no known diet that will prevent prostate cancer — and there probably never will be.”

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