Prostate Cancer

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 

I was in a doctor’s office last week and the receptionist asked the patient in front of me for his list of medications.  As he handed over the list, he immediately started making excuses for not taking two of the prescriptions on the list—one for hypertension and the other for cholesterol. 

The patient who I will refer to as “Mr. Know It All” said he was taking herbal medicine and following the holistic approach.  I was moved by the exchange and wondered just how many patients fail to follow doctor’s orders. 

And yes, those of us on medications do get tired but what are the alternatives–Strokes, Heart Attacks, Diabetes and the ultimate alternative, death.  Some things are best left up to the professionals and in “Mr. Know It All” case the professional is called d-o-c-t-o-r.

After the encounter with “Mr. Know It All”, I decided to do a health article reprint on Prostate Cancer since my dad passed away with Prostate Cancer.  I also know men will put off important health tests and decisions until the rooster comes home to roost and that might be never, particularly if he encounters a nice chick along the way. 

Prostate Cancer is high among blacks.  According to PubMed Health, Prostrate Cancer is the most common cause of death in men over age 75.  

Prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than 40.

People who are at higher risk include:
  •  African American men, who are also likely to develop cancer at every age
  • Men who are older than 60
  •  Men who have a father or brother with Prostate Cancer

Other people at risk include:
  •  Men who have been around Agent Orange
  •  Men who use too much alcohol
  •  Farmers
  •  Men who eat a diet high in fat, especially animal fat
  •  Plant workers
  •  Painters
  •  Men who have been around cadmium

Prostate Cancer is less common in people who do not eat meat (vegetarians).

Symptoms include:
 •  Delayed or slowed start of urinary stream
 •  Dribbling or leakage of urine, most often after urinating
 •  Slow urinary stream
 •  Straining when urinating or not being able to empty out all of the urine
 •  Blood in the urine or semen
 •  Bone pain or tenderness, most often in the lower back and pelvic bones (only when the cancer has spread)

Tests – A biopsy is needed where sample tissues are removed from the Prostate and sent to a lab. A CT Scan and or Bone Scan may also be needed to determine whether the cancer has spread.  

What would have been of great value to me when my father was being treated was the Gleason score.  I had never heard of the Gleason score and how to interpret the range and where my father fell within that range.  

My sister was visibly upset when the doctor finally told us that our father was in the last stage.  Since the doctor was able to tell through the Gleason score how far along the cancer had advanced, why weren’t we aware of this information sooner? Dad gave his doctor permission to share information with us.

The higher the Gleason score, the more likely the cancer has spread beyond the prostate. The Gleason grade tells how fast the cancer might spread.  It grades tumors on a scale of 1-5.  

You may have different grades of cancer in one biopsy sample.  The two main grades are added together.  This gives you the Gleason score.
 •  Scores 2 – 5  Low grade prostate cancer
 •  Scores 6 – 7  Intermediate or in the middle grade cancer (most fall within this group)
 •  Scores 8 – 10 High grade cancer

Treatment – depends on many things including the Gleason score and overall health.  

Early stage may include Surgery (radical prostatectomy); Radiation therapy (medicines to reduce testosterone levels), Hormones therapy (medication to reduce testosterone levels), or Chemotherapy.

Prevention may just be in the diet.  According to PubMed Health, you can lower your risk by eating a diet high on Omega-3 fatty acids, low fat, and a vegetarian diet.  

The end stage of Prostate Cancer is very painful. Take care of yourself!  Be sure to have this conversation with your doctor regarding Prostate Cancer if you are experiencing any of the symptoms described in this article.  

Early diagnosis is crucial to the type of treatment program your doctor will suggest. Don’t put off going to the doctor because you fear receiving bad news.  What’s even worse is not going when your life could have been extended with proper treatment.

Ladies, drag your husband or significant other kicking and screaming to a doctor if you can’t get him to go on his own. He will thank you later.  I have a son, grandson, brothers, cousins and uncles.  I will follow your example dad and be on the sideline cheering every male on to get tested. This one’s for you dad, RIP (3/23/2006).  If we can just save one dad, it’s worth the time that it took to pen this article.

Note: Health information obtained from PubMed Health. Contact your doctor for more information regarding Prostate exams and Prostate Cancer)

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