The only way to detect prostate cancer, most of the time, is through testing. Although it is the second-leading cause of death in American men, it has no symptoms in the early, treatable, stages. The 233,000 annual cases of prostate cancer that are diagnosed are found through testing. The sole reliable solution is for people who are at risk to be tested regularly. That means men over 45, black men, obese men, men with a history of colorectal or gastrointestinal illness, men with a family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer, and smokers should be checked out on a routine basis. Men who are experiencing symptoms—trouble urinating, or a weaker stream, primarily—should get tested as well, regardless of risk category or of how recently they were tested.
In addition to testing, active efforts at prevention can be important. A healthy diet with lots of fruits an vegetables is an important part of maintaining prostate health. Men in regions where soy is a staple food have a lower incidence of cancer of the prostate and studies have sown that eating soy and tomato together can provide some measure of protection against cancer. Regular exercise to help avoid obesity and maintain a healthy weight has a measurable effect on prostate cancer.
If cancer does develop, it responds very well to treatment at the early stages, though the success rate rapidly drops off as the disease progresses. However, for the smallest tumors, treatment may not even be necessary—in autopsies, men are commonly found to have prostate cancer that never developed into a serious threat, and has nothing to do with the actual cause of death. When treatment is needed, a common approach is hormone therapy to prevent testosterone from reaching the tumor, shrinking it. In more advanced cases, surgery or radiation therapy may be needed.
Recently, health care professionals have been turning their attention to post-treatment care. Twenty percent of all cancer survivors in the United States are men who have had prostate cancer. They need information on and guidance for dealing with the effects of the treatment as well as help preventing cancer from recurring. The latter means more aggressive screening, but it also means help with diet and with managing other risk factors.