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Men’s Health Week: Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer

In honor of Men’s Health Week June 11-17, I am writing about Prostate Cancer. We hear a lot about women’s health issues. Unfortunately, the life expectancy gender gap has been growing. This is the number of years one gender is expected to live beyond the other.

  • In 1920, the life expectancy gender gap was only 1 year.
  • By 2014, men were dying almost 5 years sooner than women.

Why the Gap?

Men’s Health Library lists the following as some of the reasons for this gap in life expectancy:

  • Men die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death and are the victims of over 92% of workplace deaths.
  • A higher percentage of men have no healthcare coverage.
  • Men make ½ as many physician visits for prevention.
  • Men are employed in the most dangerous occupations, such as mining, firefighting, construction, and fishing.
  • Society discourages healthy behaviors in men and boys.
  • Research on male-specific diseases is underfunded.
  • Men may have less healthy lifestyles including risk-taking at younger ages.

All these things add up to men dying at faster rates than women. Only men can bring about the changes needed to alter these numbers. Of course, the women in their lives can advocate for them. This includes encouraging them to see their doctor for annual exams and when symptoms arise that should be looked at.

Preventative care is a huge factor in women living longer than men.

Women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. (1)

Prostate Cancer Facts:

1 in 7 Men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Risk Factors


1 in 5 African-American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

African American men are also twice as likely to die of prostate cancer than other races are, however, if diagnosed at the same stage, the mortality rate is the same. Early detection is key!

Family History

Men with a family history of prostate cancer are 2-3 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Know your family history, especially if a blood relative has had prostate cancer

Men with the breast cancer gene, BRCA1, and BRCA2, have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

Diet and Exercise

Eat a diet that is high in fiber and low in fat and red meat to reduce your risk of prostate cancer.

As a preventive measure, and for your overall health, eat at least 2½ cups of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day.

Get physical activity daily.

Maintain a healthy weight.

According to the American Cancer Society, studies have suggested that diets high in certain vegetables, including tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower), soy, beans, and other legumes, or fish may be linked with a lower risk of prostate cancer, especially more advanced cancers.

Also, several studies have found a higher risk of prostate cancer in men whose diets are high in calcium. There may also be an increased risk from consuming dairy foods. This doesn’t mean that men who are being treated for prostate cancer should not take calcium supplements if their doctor recommends them.

Agent Orange

Vietnam vets are 2 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and it is also more aggressive.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2016, 2 Life Expectancy data are from CDC/NCHS, Health, United States, 2015

Prostate cancer is very treatable when caught early.

Symptoms can include:

  • Chronic pain in the hips, thighs, or lower back
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Blood in the urine/semen
  • Trouble getting an erection

Because these symptoms can be mistaken for non-cancerous conditions (and vise-verse) it’s important to see your healthcare provider for regular prostate cancer screenings. See for more information of prostate health.

When to Screen

The American Cancer Society recommends you talk to your doctor about screening at:

  • Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
  • Age 45 for men at high risk of developing cancer of the prostate. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with cancer of the prostate at an early age (younger than age 65).
  • Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).

Treatments for prostate cancer have improved over the years, but nothing is more effective than prevention and early screening. Talk to your doctor today.


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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on

Also, check out Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer.

Also, put your memories into words with The Memory Maker’s Journal.

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

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16 comments on “Men’s Health Week: Prostate Cancer

I’ve been listening to an audio book called How Not to Die by Dr Michael Greger — his chapter on Prostrate cancer was astounding (all the chapters were) and your info on increasing vegetables, particularly cruciferous, matches the results he found in medical studies.


Hi Liz, Eating more vegetables is something that Americans really seem to slack in. 90% of us aren’t eating enough, including me, and I love them! Yet, they are more widely available than ever, year round. I wonder why so few of us eat the vegetables we so need.

Thank you for this, not enough is said about prostate cancer, it’s a difficult cancer to diagnose by normal screening and so many men pass away because of it.

As much as I hate this, I’ll have to make some chances in my life choices, e.g. less meat, more exercise, I truly thank you for the information you’ve put into this article, i’ll be sharing this with my male friends.


Thank you, Adam. Prostate cancer is far too common an occurrence. Thankfully, successful efforts to prevent, detect, and treat prostate cancer have been saving many lives. You are doing the right thing by changing some health habits to reduce your risk. It will be worth it. Have a wonderful week!

Cancer is a disease that is rapidly expanding the day by day. For this disease, the Men die at higher rates than women. The main reason is no healthcare coverage. For the fight, this disease USA cancer society suggested the vegetables, like tomatoes, soy, beans, other legumes, and Omega 3 fish oil. They save us from cancer. Very thanks for the information through this content i will share with my family!
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Thank you, Ashely. Eating a healthy diet is a huge part of preventing prostate and colon cancer. The reason men die of prostate cancer and not women is that women don’t have a prostate.

How long should you wait to see an oncologist?


Hi Global Speak. As soon as you have a confirmation of cancer you should see an oncologist. We made an appointment while my husband was in the testing phase because it can often take some time to get an appointment. By the time cancer was confirmed, he was able to move forward with treatment under the oncologist’s supervision. Of course, if he hadn’t had a confirmed diagnosis, he could have canceled the appointment. Best wishes!

Afton Jackson

I like that you mentioned that one of the solutions for decreasing the statistics is for women to encourage their men to do preventive care. My wife has been supportive of me and I would like to refer this to her.


Hi Afton. Spousal support is so important to patients during prevention, treatment, and recovery. Have a wonderful New Year!

Thank you, Adam! Cancer is a very complicated health condition. To men, this a very helpful guide to fight prostate cancer.
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Patients fighting different kinds of cancer share their very individual stories here on the MD Anderson Cancer Center blog, making it ideal for those in search of inspiration.

Interesting blog.It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge with us! This topic is important, especially for men.

Hi buddy! Awesome sharing with full of information I was searching for. Your complete guidance gave me a wonderful end up. Great going.

I’m a Thai girls. I enjoyed you article so much. This article is so informative.
Thanks you so much for this kind of informative blog.

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