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Prostate cancer: how you can reduce your risk

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer affecting men in Ireland, with around 3,300 new cases diagnosed each year. While it is highly treatable, early detection is key. That’s why it is important to be informed, recognise symptoms and take all the steps you can to reduce risk.

Symptoms

As the early stages of the cancer do not present with symptoms, men who feel they are at risk should arrange a screening with their GP. Your risk rises as you get older, with most cases diagnosed in men over 50. Having a father or brother who developed the disease at any age also doubles your own risk.

The process to assess your condition involves your GP conducting a blood test to gauge Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and a prostate examination.

Symptoms of prostate cancer may only show when the prostate has grown large enough to press on the bladder. Some of these include: 

  • Trouble starting or stopping the flow of urine
  •  Slower than normal flow of urine
  •  Passing urine more often, particularly at night
  • Pain when passing urine
  •  Blood in the urine or semen
  •  A feeling of not fully emptying your bladder when passing urine

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your GP. While they could be the symptoms of an enlarged prostate – common as men get older and generally harmless – it’s important to rule out something more serious.

Precautions

There are some things you can do to reduce your risk. Recent research has suggested that being overweight increases your chances of prostate cancer. A healthy diet and regular exercise can lower these risks.

Tomatoes, Brazil nuts and seafood are the kinds of food that you should be eating more of, while lowering your intake of dairy and red meat. Why not substitute your daily yoghurt with a handful of nuts or some cherry tomatoes and hummus? 

It’s also a good idea to monitor the amount of exercise you’re doing in case you need to increase it. Aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise like walking or cycling every week. Why not join your local gym or walking group, or take up golf or swimming? Find something you enjoy and it won’t feel like work at all! 

While you keep an eye on your weight, speak to your GP before making any major changes to your diet and exercise plan. They can advise you on the best course of action. Ultimately, arranging an appointment with your GP is the quickest route to peace of mind. 

Check out some more Health Hub articles by clicking here.