Submitted by Alicia DeRuscio, B.S.
Community Education Assistant
Men’s Health: Prostate & Bladder Cancer
The National Cancer Institute estimates that men in the United States will face 856,370 new cases of cancer in 2018. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), two of the top five most common forms of cancer that affect men include prostate cancer and bladder cancer.
Aside from skin cancer, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) classifies prostate cancer as the most common cancer among men. Prostate cancer occurs when cells within the prostate gland, a gland only found in men, begin to grow uncontrollably. Researchers from ACS do not know the exact cause of prostate cancer, but they do know that it begins when there are changes to the DNA of a normal prostate cell. These changes can occur during a person’s lifetime or can be passed on from generation to generation. In order to protect yourself, it’s important to know the risk factors of prostate cancer and the steps you can take to lower your risk.
Certain risk factors, including age, family history, and race can increase the likelihood of developing prostate cancer. While prostate cancer can occur at any time, the CDC states that the risk for developing prostate cancer increases as men get older; most cases occur in men over the age of 65. Family history can also affect a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer. According to the CDC, if a man has a father, brother, or son who currently has or had prostate cancer in the past, they are two to three times more likely to also develop the disease. For reasons unknown, prostate cancer more commonly occurs in African American men than any other race.
There is no specific way to prevent prostate cancer, but there are certain preventative steps men can take to lower their risk of developing it. ACS recommends maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and eating a balanced diet. This means getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity and 2 days of strength training activities each week, as well as eating 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables every day.
Harvard Health classifies bladder cancer as the fourth most common, lethal internal disease in American men, and one of the top ten deadliest cancers. According to ACS, bladder cancer occurs when cells in the urinary bladder grow uncontrollably. As the cancer cells continue to develop, tumors may form and the cancer may spread to other areas of the body. There are several layers within the bladder, all made up of different types of cells. ACS believes that most bladder cancers begin in the innermost lining of the bladder, and then continue to spread to the outer layers.
There are a number of risk factors that affect a person’s likelihood of developing bladder cancer. According to the CDC, these risk factors include smoking, exposure to chemicals in the workplace, and not drinking enough fluids. Smoking is the biggest risk factor of developing bladder cancer. ACS deems smokers three times more likely to develop bladder cancer than nonsmokers. If you smoke, talk to your healthcare provider about quitting.
Exposure to certain chemicals has also been linked to developing bladder cancer. Workers in the rubber, leather, textiles, or painting industries are at an increased risk for bladder cancer, as well as machinists, printers, hair dressers, and truck drivers. Lastly, those who don’t drink enough fluids each day, especially water, tend to have higher rates of bladder cancer. ACS believes this may be due to the fact that those that drink more often empty their bladders more frequently, which prevents chemicals from lingering in the bladder.
Like prostate cancer, there is no specific way to prevent bladder cancer, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk. ACS recommends not smoking, limiting your exposure to chemicals in the workplace, following proper safety precautions if you work in an industry that may expose you to chemicals, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables. Studies have suggested that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help protect against bladder cancer.
There is no guarantee to preventing cancer, but the best defense is to take control of your health. To best decrease your chances of developing cancer, the ACS suggests:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting regular physical activity
- Avoiding all forms of tobacco
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Protecting your skin
- Knowing yourself, your family history and your risks
- Visiting your healthcare provider regularly and getting screened for cancer
For more information on men’s health, talk your healthcare provider, or call HealthLink Littauer at 518-736-1120. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our wellness center on 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.