The prostate gland, located beneath the bladder just in front of the rectum, is essential to male health in that it helps produce certain compounds that make up semen, while also helping regulate urination. Prostate cancer is the leading type of cancer in men. While it is treatable when diagnosed early, the American Cancer Society estimates that of the approximately 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer each year, nearly 26,730 cases will be fatal. Now, a new prostate cancer urine test may help diagnose the illness even sooner than is currently typical. When combined with certain lifestyle changes and effective treatment, early diagnosis may improve the chances of beating this common cancer.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer has been difficult to diagnose in the past, because the symptoms may be minimal or not present at all. In general, the following symptoms may be observed in the early stages of the illness:
- frequent need to urinate, even at night
- trouble urinating, including difficulty in maintaining the stream
- urine contaminated with blood
- urinating and ejaculation may be painful
- difficulty developing or maintaining an erection
Once the illness advances, the symptoms become more severe, making it easier to obtain a diagnosis. In the late stages, prostate cancer causes bone pain and increases the risks of developing bone fractures. Pain will be especially pronounced in the femur, ribs, pelvis and spine.
There are many treatment options available to men with an early diagnosis of prostate cancer, and the success rate is much higher when the illness is diagnosed early. In some cases, the prostate may be surgically removed. This ensures the cancer won’t spread to other organs in the body. In other cases, radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate gland. This treatment, called brachytherapy, lets a doctor target the cancer cells directly, eliminating them safely. Depending on the location and size of the cancer, other types of radiation therapy may be used.
When prostate cancer grows more severe, it becomes harder to treat. In some situations, aggressive chemotherapy may be the best option. Another treatment is advanced hormone suppression therapy, which targets the androgens that can stimulate cancer growth in men. This type of treatment is usually considered to be a long-term, or ongoing, form of therapy.
Research Leads to Game-Changing Prostate Cancer Urine Test
A recent study conducted in the U.K. uncovered a way to use urine samples to identify the development of prostate cancer up to five years earlier than traditional diagnostic methods. A group of 535 men were asked to provide urine samples, which the researchers tested for the cell-free expression found in 167 different types of genes. From that group, the scientists were able to identify 36 gene markers that indicated a likelihood of developing prostate cancer. Dubbed the PUR test, this prostate cancer urine test would look for those genetic markers that raise the likelihood of developing prostate cancer in men.
Dr. Jeremy Clark, one of the researchers involved in the study, says this test is revolutionary in the degree of accuracy it provides. In addition to determining if an individual is at risk for prostate cancer, he says the degree of risk can also be determined. This test can take the place of more invasive procedures in some cases, which involve taking biopsies via the use of long needles.
Even more surprising was the fact that the PUR test could predict the development of cancer up to five years before traditional tests would provide a diagnosis. This means patients can be treated more successfully, while the cancer is still in the very early stages of development. Patients could be monitored for cancer growth once their risk of developing the illness was established. As soon as cancer cells were identified, treatment could begin to eradicate the growing cells.
There are already some screenings that men can undergo to determine their risk of developing prostate cancer. Most of these tests, such as a digital rectal exam, will look for masses that may potentially be prostate cancer. If something is found, a biopsy is necessary to confirm a diagnosis. While a biopsy may still be necessary following a PUR test, this test’s ability to diagnose the level of risk can help doctors anticipate prostate cancer earlier. Catching it early means treating the illness with less invasive procedures and improving the potential for a full recovery.
Natural Methods for Promoting Better Prostate Health
Fortunately, there are many natural ways for you to improve the health of your prostate gland. Even if your risk of developing prostate cancer is high, employing some of these suggestions can help you strengthen the prostate gland. This may reduce your risk of cancer growth.
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
By eating foods that will help alleviate inflammation, you can maintain a healthier prostate gland. These foods include oily fish, plant-based foods and whole grains.
Avoid Foods That Are Likely to Harm Prostate Health
As you might expect, foods in this group include those with high sugar content and high trans-fats. Artificial sweeteners, processed foods and fried foods are also common culprits.
Take a Dietary Supplement
There are many supplements on the market that help improve overall health. Some effective natural supplements are specifically engineered to boost prostate health. Adding them to your diet can give you the natural boost your body needs to resist developing health problems.
Obesity can instigate a number of health problems. For men, this includes an enlarged prostate and urinary tract infections. By engaging in more physical activity and burning off excess fat, you can lower the health risks to your prostate gland.
Since one in nine men are likely to develop prostate cancer, regular check-ups are essential. By visiting your doctor once per year, you may be able to identify prostate problems and other health concerns before they become too serious.