Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, Risk Factors and Tips to Prevent It

Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, Risk Factors and Tips to Prevent It | UPMC Italy

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on November 16, 2022, and was last reviewed on November 20, 2023.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common malignancies in men. During 2022, more than 40,000 new diagnoses were registered, accounting for about 20 per cent of all male cancers. The positive news is that, in the event of early diagnosis, the five-year net survival rate exceeds 90%. Currently, in Italy, it is estimated that almost 600 thousand men have survived the diagnosis (source: I numeri del cancro in Italia 2022, AIOM).

The Prostate

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located below the base of the bladder and anterior to the rectum, which plays a crucial role in the production of seminal fluid. Prostate enlargements can occur in a benign form, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or in a cancerous form. Certain symptoms, such as frequent urination, are common to both conditions.

The relevance of early screening emerges as a key element in the management of prostate health. Screening methods include PSA assay, digitorectal examination, prostate ultrasound and, if necessary, biopsy under ultrasound guidance. Consulting your doctor for prostate cancer screening, especially between the ages of 55 and 69, is an important step in protecting male health.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

In the early stages, prostate cancer usually proceeds silently, without manifesting any noticeable symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Bone pain.
  • Dull aching sensation in the pelvic area.
  • Discomfort in the hips, lower back or upper thighs.
  • Painful ejaculations.
  • Frequent need to urinate.
  • Weight loss.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Presence of blood in the urine.

The appearance of such signs requires immediate attention and the advice of a health professional. Early recognition of these symptoms can significantly contribute to early intervention and effective management of the disease.

Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

The risk factors associated with prostate cancer include various elements that may increase the likelihood of developing this form of cancer. Although the exact causes of the disease are not fully understood, some well-recognised risk factors have been identified, including:

  • Obesity.
  • Age: the risk of developing prostate cancer increases significantly with advancing age. In particular, most cases occur in individuals over the age of 55, being rare under the age of 40.
  • Familiarity: the presence of prostate cancer cases among first-degree relatives may increase individual risk. The genetic and familial component is therefore considered a significant factor.

How to Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer

Reducing the risk of prostate cancer can be positively influenced by healthy lifestyle choices. Based on numerous scientific studies, the World Cancer Research Fund has provided valuable insights into the relationship between diet, lifestyle and cancer.

Some tips to prevent chronic diseases

  1. Limit consumption of red meat, a food rich in saturated fat and calories.
  2. Eat seasonal fruit and vegetables regularly. Tomatoes, broccoli, blueberries and cauliflower contain nutrients that can help slow the spread of cancer.
  3. Consume 'good fats'. Olive oil, fish, nuts and avocados all contain omega-3 fats. Avoid partially hydrogenated fats, which are contained in many packaged foods.
  4. Avoid smoking. Smoking has been linked to various cancers, including prostate cancer. Quitting smoking can significantly improve overall health and reduce the risk of many diseases, including cancer. Good news: ten years without smoking brings the risk factor down to that of a non-smoker of the same age.
  5. Limit alcohol consumption. High alcohol consumption weakens the immune system and exposes you to the risk of many diseases, including cancer.
  6. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. If the gym is too much of a commitment or boring, or sticking to a strict exercise routine is difficult, a simple walk or bike ride can get your heart rate up and reduce stress. Look for small tricks to move more throughout the day, such as parking the car further away from the office, walking to the supermarket, taking the stairs instead of taking the lift.
  7. Try yoga to reduce stress, a risk factor for several diseases, including prostate cancer. Yoga therapy increases blood flow and relieves stress. It also increases flexibility and muscle tone.
  8. Improve sleep quality. The ideal amount of sleep is between 7 and 9 hours per night for an adult person. Turning off the phone or dimming the lights are just a few measures that can help you develop a night-time routine for optimal rest.

Incorporating these practices into your daily lifestyle can help maintain optimal prostate health and reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer. It is important to consult your doctor for a personalised assessment and receive specific advice based on your condition and lifestyle.

You can consult the urology section to learn more about the services of UPMC Salvator Mundi International Hospital.