September is considered as Prostate Awareness Month, and with it comes the need to put in the limelight the second most common cancer among men. While the American Cancer Society, Inc. stipulates that over 2 million Americans in the country “count themselves as prostate cancer survivors,” the fact remains that so much remains to be known about the disease.
Quick Prostate Cancer Facts
This type of cancer is among the leading causes of death among men, as it takes the lives of about 27,970 men annually. However, the mortality rate of prostate cancer can be considered as quite low, considering that about 209,292 men are diagnosed with it per year. This then means that one in every seven men would be diagnosed with prostate cancer – and the chances of conquering the disease are very, very high.
Among the risk factors of prostate cancer are obesity and smoking, as well as aging. Medical News Today points out that it primarily occurs in older gentlemen, as 6 in every 10 diagnosed cases are in men 65 years old or older.
Recent Researches about Prostate Cancer
Yet while it has been a longstanding notion that there is a significant link between vasectomy and prostate cancer, a recent study debunks this. The study, published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Oncology, conducted what can be considered as the biggest research regarding the topic.
Researchers followed the lives of 363,726 men from 1982 to 2012 to explore the relationship between vasectomy and prostate cancer. The researchers then concluded that there was “no difference in rates of prostate cancer incidence or mortality between men who had vasectomies and those who had not,” according to an article in the New York Times. The study’s lead author, Eric J. Jacobs, tells the publication that he wouldn’t be worried about prostate cancer had he been considering vasectomy. He adds, “To lower the risk of the worst kind of prostate cancer, there are two things: maintain a healthy weight, and if you smoke, quit. Smoking and obesity have consistently been linked with the risk of fatal prostate cancer.”
In the same vein as to debunking prostate cancer facts, another recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine warns against aggressive treatment upon diagnosis of the disease. The study points out that a decade after the diagnosis of prostate cancer, 99 percent of the men in the study are still alive. However, the startling conclusion that can be derived from the study is the fact that “There’s no hard evidence that treating early disease makes a difference,” according to the study’s lead author, Freddie Hamdy.
What Hamdy meant by this is that out of the 2,700 men diagnosed with prostate cancer, 1,643 subjects were randomly assigned to one of the following: radiation treatment, prostate surgery, and active monitoring.
Among the participants, the researchers were able to see that while active monitoring can increase the risk of the cancer spreading, there is no significant increase in mortality. On the other hand, those who underwent more aggressive forms of treatment had to contend with more pressing side effects, such as incontinence and losing the ability to sustain an erection.
The study then concludes that having prostate cancer doesn’t mean that you have to rush to get surgery – sometimes you have to outweigh the pros and cons of getting treatment, particularly if you are likely to survive your brush with the dreaded “C” word.