Okay, you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Maybe you got the diagnosis yesterday or last week or last month, and one of the big questions in your mind is, Now what?
First of all, chances are excellent that you are not going to die of prostate cancer. In fact, most men who get prostate cancer do not die of it, they die with it. In the United States, a man has about a 16 percent chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, but his risk of dying from it is only about 2.8 percent. The American Cancer Society reports that the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent, and for ten years, the rate is 91 percent. Since these percentages are based on prostate cancers found five and ten years ago, and treatments have improved significantly since then, your prognosis is likely to be even better. More on prostate cancer statistics
Second, there are several important things you can do to:
- Minimize the impact of prostate cancer on your life
- Help prevent the progression of the disease
- Give you and your loved ones peace of mind
Here is a checklist of the steps you can take right now to continue to live life to the fullest with prostate cancer:
The National Cancer Institute suggests getting a second opinion about your diagnosis before you begin treatment. Many health insurance companies will cover the cost of a second opinion if you or your doctor requests one. The second (or third) doctor may or may not agree with your first doctor’s opinion and treatment plan. In either case, you will have more information to help you make your decision about treatment. There are also a number of risk assessment tools such as the UCSF-CAPRA Score and the D’Amico classification as well as a number of nomograms to guide your decision making process.
Talk to your doctor(s) and make sure you he or she fully explains your current state of prostate health and what to expect in both the short- and long-term. Read and learn as much as you can about prostate health and prostate cancer. The Internet has made it easy to stay up to date by receiving notifications whenever studies or articles about prostate health, Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Treatments, prostate cancer treatments, and other topics of interest are released to the media. Establish a file as new information is released so you can talk to your doctor(s) about it.
Just because you have prostate cancer does not mean you should stop doing things that can help prevent it; in fact, right now is the perfect time to take immediate positive action and focus on staying as healthy as possible. You have to understand that cancer is a serious disease that is now defining how you live for the rest of your life and you need to provide your body with maximum immunity and strength to prevent any reoccurrence. With that in mind, here are 19 lifestyle and dietary steps you can take right now to promote prostate health. These steps are based on over 200 studies over 15 years and are part of the foundations of The Prostate Diet and the 6 Pillars of Prostate Health. They provide maximum protection for you and your prostate.
|Maximize fruit and vegetable servings: Fruits and vegetables contain high levels of cancer- and inflammation-fighting substances such as antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Strong evidence points to the ability of these foods—which are rich in potent phytonutrients—to reduce the risk of developing several types of cancer, including prostate cancer. (Cohen 2009)|
|Focus on proper nutrition. Cancer experts estimate that our food choices account for up to 90 percent of cancers of the prostate, breast, pancreas, and colon. Making changes to your diet can significantly lower your risk of getting prostate disease. Read more on the Prostate Diet|
|Eat healthy fats: Research shows that people who live in countries where high-fat diets are the norm (like the United States) are more likely to develop prostate cancer than people who live in countries where diets are lower in fat.
|Choose plant protein over animal protein: Plant protein gives you all the nutrients and health benefits needed for maximum prostate health. Diets rich in plant protein have been shown to reduce rates of cancer and prostate disease. Also, according to the World Health Organization “diets high in red meat, dairy products, and animal fat have frequently been implicated in the development of prostate cancer”.|
|Eat whole and natural foods: Consuming foods high in fiber has been linked to lower levels of testosterone (Wang 2008) and lower PSA scores (Tariq 2000), both good indicators for prostate health.
|Consume green tea: Green tea contains substances called catechins that travel throughout the body and take up residence in the prostate, where they can slow the growth of cancer cells, encourage cancer cell “suicide” (apoptosis), and interfere with the actions of enzymes that encourage the growth and spread of cancer. Studies show that men who drink green tea can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer by as much as 70 percent when compared with men who don’t drink green tea. (Jian 2004) More on green tea and prostate cancer|
|Eat omega-3 rich foods: Found in certain fish, Omega 3 fats fight inflammation, a process that eats up the body’s natural antioxidants and weakens the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to disease. Omega 3 has also been shown to significantly decrease prostate cancer risk.
|Avoid foods and additives that are harmful to prostate health: Some foods, supplements, additives and nutrients are especially harmful to the prostate, including but not limited to red meat, calcium, chondroitin, and foods high in sugar. Read more about food and additives to avoid for prostate health|
|Take supplements: Supplements that have been shown to be beneficial for prostate health include: Vitamin D, Zinc, Resveratrol, Saw Palmetto, Beta sisterol, Pygeum africanum, Curcumin(turmeric), Omega 3, Stinging Nettle Root, Rye pollen (cernilton), Quercetin and Green tea extract. Read more on top supplements for prostate cancer|
|Consume cancer-killing foods: Numerous foods and their components in The Prostate Diet have been shown to be cancer killers. Elevated levels of folate (folic acid) and vitamin D are associated with a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. Other foods such as turmeric/curcumin and cayenne have been shown to have cancer killing properties as has lycopene, found mainly in tomato-based products as well as in watermelon and guava. Read more about cancer killing foods|
|Hydrate often: Drinking pure water is essential for prostate health.
|Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Numerous studies have shown a link between being overweight and having a high risk of prostate cancer as well as lower long-term survival rates and more aggressive forms of the disease.|
|Exercise regularly. Studies with animals and large human populations suggest that exercise can help slow the spread of prostate cancer (Esser 2009). Exercise also has a preventative effect on prostatitis and BPH as well as inflammation.|
|Manage stress. Many health experts believe that stress plays a role in cancer: it may not directly cause it, but long-term stress can be very detrimental to the body, weakening the immune system, altering your hormonal balance, and overall making you more susceptible to disease. Read more about stress management|
|Experiment with natural therapies. Natural prevention and treatment approaches for prostate health include acupuncture, biofeedback, homeopathy, hormone restoration, massage, reflexology and stress management techniques. Read more about natural therapies|
|Lead a prostate friendly lifestyle. Smoking, sleep patterns, some medications and alcohol all affect your prostate.
|Maintain hormone balance. Hormone management and hormone balancing play a major role in prostate health. According to the World Health Organization “diet might influence prostate cancer risk by affecting hormone levels.” Read more about hormone balance|
|Maintain a healthy sex life. Sex seems to be healthy for your prostate but can you have too much of a good thing? Read more about a healthy sex life|
|Avoid exposure to toxins. Stay away from chemicals and other substances that can increase the risk of developing cancer. Read more on chemicals and prostate health|
Form a prostate cancer treatment team
Your prostate cancer treatment team will consist of several specialists and therapists who can guide you in your treatment decision making. Depending on your treatment plan, members of your team who are physicians may include a urologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and your primary care physician. Other members of the team may include a social worker, to help with different aspects of your care, and therapists such as a physical therapist or occupational therapist. Other important members of the team are more concerned with your physical and mental symptoms. These specialists can help you with diet and nutrition, weight loss, relaxation techniques, stress relief and other ways to help support you. Having a treatment team will give you several people you can trust for help in making medical decisions and helping you connect your lifestyle changes and medical treatment for a well-rounded approach.
Become knowledgeable about your treatment options by (1) reading all you can about both conventional and complementary treatments so you can (2) be an informed patient when you talk with your doctor(s) about those options, which include:
- Watchful waiting, which means regular PSA testing, prostate exams, and periodic repeat biopsies
- Hormone therapy, including anti-androgens, estrogens, LH-RH agonists
- Surgery, the goals of which are to remove all the cancer, maintain the best possible urinary function, and have limited impact on sexual function
- Experimental therapies, including cryosurgery
You should have copies of all your medical records both for your own knowledge and so you can make copies available for other medical professionals as needed.
- Get copies of all test results, including PSA tests, biopsies, ultrasounds, or any others. Keep a record or graph of all test results in an easily accessible format using a tracking tool such as that provided by MD Anderson Cancer Center.
- If you have had radiology scans done, ask for digital copies of the actual scans so future radiologists can compare them.
- Keep an up-to-date record of any medications that you take, over-the-counter and prescription, as well as any supplements.
A social network of family, friends, colleagues, medical professionals, and support group participants is critical for emotional, mental, and physical health. Social sites such as Facebook can also provide support through groups. Follow Prostate.net on Facebook
Dealing with Depression and Sexual Function
Dr Addie Wotten from the Australian Prostate Cancer Institute talks about dealing with depression and prostate cancer as well as sexual intimacy after treatment
National Cancer Institute: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/prostate/page9
Prostate Cancer Research Institute: http://www.prostate-cancer.org/pcricms/node/126