Prostate Cancer: What You Need to Know

Overview

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the prostate. In men, the prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland that produces seminal fluid, which nourishes and transports sperm.

One of the most common types of cancer in men is prostate cancer. It typically grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause significant harm. While some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may require little or no treatment, others are aggressive and spread quickly.

Prostate cancer that’s detected early — when it’s still confined to the prostate gland — has the best chance for successful treatment.

Types of prostate cancer

Most cases of prostate cancer are a type of cancer called an adenocarcinoma. This is a cancer that grows in the tissue of a gland, such as the prostate gland.

Prostate cancer is also categorized by how fast it grows. It has two types of growths:

  • aggressive, or fast growing
  • nonaggressive, or slow growing

With nonaggressive prostate cancer, the tumor either doesn’t grow or grows very little over time. With aggressive prostate cancer, the tumor can grow quickly and may spread to other areas of the body, such as the bones.

Symptoms

Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages. Prostate cancer that’s more advanced may cause signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Blood in semen
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Bone pain
  • Erectile dysfunction

Causes

It’s not clear what causes prostate cancer

Doctors know that prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate develop changes in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do. The changes tell the cells to grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells do. The abnormal cells continue living, when other cells would die.

The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can grow to invade nearby tissue. In time, some abnormal cells can break away and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

Risk factors

Factors that can increase your risk of prostate cancer include:

  • Older age. Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you age. It’s most common after age 50.
  • Race. For reasons not yet determined, Black people have a greater risk of prostate cancer than do people of other races. In Black people, prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced.
  • Family history. If a blood relative, such as a parent, sibling or child, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk may be increased. Also, if you have a family history of genes that increase the risk of breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2) or a very strong family history of breast cancer, your risk of prostate cancer may be higher.
  • Obesity. People who are obese may have a higher risk of prostate cancer compared with people considered to have a healthy weight, though studies have had mixed results. In obese people, the cancer is more likely to be more aggressive and more likely to return after initial treatment.

Complications

Complications of prostate cancer and its treatments include:

  • Cancer that spreads (metastasizes). Prostate cancer can spread to nearby organs, such as your bladder, or travel through your bloodstream or lymphatic system to your bones or other organs. Prostate cancer that spreads to the bones can cause pain and broken bones. Once prostate cancer has spread to other areas of the body, it may still respond to treatment and may be controlled, but it’s unlikely to be cured.
  • Incontinence. Both prostate cancer and its treatment can cause urinary incontinence. Treatment for incontinence depends on the type you have, how severe it is and the likelihood it will improve over time. Treatment options may include medications, catheters and surgery.
  • Erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction can result from prostate cancer or its treatment, including surgery, radiation or hormone treatments. Medications, vacuum devices that assist in achieving erection and surgery are available to treat erectile dysfunction.

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any persistent signs or symptoms that worry you.

Prevention

You can reduce your risk of prostate cancer if you:

  • Choose a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and nutrients that can contribute to your health.

Whether you can prevent prostate cancer through diet has yet to be conclusively proved. But eating a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables can improve your overall health.

  • Choose healthy foods over supplements. No studies have shown that supplements play a role in reducing your risk of prostate cancer. Instead, choose foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals so that you can maintain healthy levels of vitamins in your body.
  • Exercise most days of the week. Exercise improves your overall health, helps you maintain your weight and improves your mood. Try to exercise most days of the week. If you’re new to exercise, start slow and work your way up to more exercise time each day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If your current weight is healthy, work to maintain it by choosing a healthy diet and exercising most days of the week. If you need to lose weight, add more exercise and reduce the number of calories you eat each day. Ask your doctor for help creating a plan for healthy weight loss.
  • Talk to your doctor about increased risk of prostate cancer. If you have a very high risk of prostate cancer, you and your doctor may consider medications or other treatments to reduce the risk. Some studies suggest that taking 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, including finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart), may reduce the overall risk of developing prostate cancer. These drugs are used to control prostate gland enlargement and hair loss.

However, some evidence indicates that people taking these medications may have an increased risk of getting a more serious form of prostate cancer (high-grade prostate cancer). If you’re concerned about your risk of developing prostate cancer, talk with your doctor.

Self-care advice for mothers

Let’s face it: being a mother is difficult. There appears to be an endless list of tasks, errands, housework, and kid’s activities. This can be made even more difficult if you have a job outside the home. With so much time spent caring for one’s family and exhaustion setting in, finding time for self-care appears to be the first thing to fall through the cracks in a hectic schedule. Self-care is the practice of looking after one’s own health, happiness, and well-being. It is an important part of stress relief and wellness. Making time for yourself may appear to be self-indulgent or selfish, but this is far from the case. Small acts of self-care or self-kindness can go a long way toward alleviating the exhaustion, burnout, stress, and even depression that many busy mothers experience.

Here are some quick self-care tips:

  • Delegate and seek assistance.

It’s difficult to admit you need help or that you can’t do everything on your own. An old adage says that it takes a village to care for a family, and this could not be more true. Find your village and ask for assistance. Accept assistance when it is offered. This may result in a few more valuable moments to focus on yourself. Don’t be afraid to say no to commitments that don’t interest you or take up too much of your time.

  • Stay organized.

Maintain a calendar, planner, or list of upcoming appointments and tasks for yourself and your family. Avoid stress caused by the unexpected, such as a school project that your child requires assistance with at the last minute. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, prioritize tasks. Begin by completing the most time-consuming or uninteresting tasks first, in order to get them out of the way.

  • Focus on the fundamentals of healthy living.

Set a goal of seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Try to get some physical activity in every day, with a weekly goal of 150 minutes. Eat a healthy diet that includes lean meats, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid sugary drinks, alcoholic beverages, and high-fat foods. Every day, drink six to eight cups of water.

  • Make time for yourself.

Add a “date” with yourself to your calendar and mark it as “protected.” Schedule a fitness class, lunch with a friend, or coffee with a good book, for example. Once the date has been set, make every effort to keep it, just as you would any other appointment.

The most important aspects of self-care are to be realistic and goal-oriented. If your schedule is hectic and chaotic, it may be unrealistic to expect hours of self-care activities per week. Begin small and with attainable goals. For example, focusing on deep breathing, meditation, or positive affirmations for 10 minutes per day may be all that is realistic at this time. Build on the foundation you’ve already laid.

Mother’s health and well-being have an impact on the entire family. You will become an even better caregiver if you incorporate self-care into your daily routine.

5 Ways To Boost Your Weight-Loss Confidence

There’s no doubt about it: Changing habits is hard. So if you’ve had weight-loss disappoints in the past, it’s understandable that your confidence in making lasting changes might be low. However, the stronger your belief is that you can accomplish a goal or change a behavior, the better your chances of success are. Behavioral experts call this self-efficacy. And it can make or break your weight-loss efforts.

Think about how you view yourself. Are you struggling to believe in your ability to lose weight? It’s normal to feel apprehensive in the beginning. But with practice you can improve your sense of self-efficacy and boost your confidence. Try these strategies:

  1. Set realistic expectations. Do you expect immediate results? It’s common to set goals that aren’t realistic. For example, you may set yourself up for failure if you go from not exercising at all to trying to work out for an hour every day. Instead, focus on small, achievable changes, such as walking for at least 10 minutes daily, so you can experience feelings of success every week. As you achieve small goals, your self-confidence will improve and you can build up to larger changes.
  2. Recognize success. Take time to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. Did you take the stairs instead of the escalator one day? Eat a healthy breakfast three days in a row? Give yourself a pat on the back. You may not usually acknowledge the small things, but doing so will help you stay positive and confident.
  3. Maintain a learning mindset. Accept that setbacks will occur. How you deal with obstacles impacts your confidence and will to keep going. Approach challenges with an open mind. Refrain from judging yourself, and reflect on the experience by using it as an opportunity to grow. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?”
  4. Practice positive self-talk. Self-talk is your inner dialogue — what you say to yourself in any given moment. With practice, you can begin to change negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, instead of saying, “I’ll never reach my weight-loss goal,” try, “Reaching my goal weight takes time, but I can do it if I stick to it.”
  5. Find healthy support. The people closest to you may feel intimidated by your desire to make healthy changes. Tell them how important their support is and what they can do to encourage you. Be sure to connect with others who have similar goals. If you see others achieving similar goals, you’re more likely to believe you can accomplish your goals, too.

Office Exercise: Add More Activity To Your Workday

Finding time to exercise can be a challenge. Why not work out while you work? Consider 10 ways to add physical activity to your workday routine.

1. Start with your commute

Walk or bike to work. If you ride the bus or the subway, get off a few blocks early or at an earlier stop than usual and walk the rest of the way. If you drive to work, park at the far end of the parking lot — or park in a nearby lot. In your building, take the stairs rather than the elevator.

2. Stand up and work

Look for ways to get out of your chair. Stand and walk while talking on the phone. Or try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter. Eat lunch standing up. If possible, skip instant messaging and email, and instead walk to a colleague’s desk for a face-to-face chat.

3. Take fitness breaks

Rather than hanging out in the lounge with coffee or a snack, take a brisk walk, hike a few flights of stairs or do some gentle stretching. For example, face straight ahead, then lower your chin to your chest. Or, while standing, grab the back of one of your ankles or your pant leg and bring it up toward your buttock. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

4. Bring a fitness ball to work

Consider trading your desk chair for a firmly inflated fitness or stability ball, as long as you’re able to safely balance on the ball. You’ll improve your balance and tone your core muscles while sitting at your desk. Use the fitness ball for wall squats or other exercises during the day. Keep in mind that in some cases, an office chair may be more appropriate.

5. Keep fitness gear at work

Store resistance bands stretchy cords or tubes that offer weight-like resistance when you pull on them or small hand weights in a desk drawer or cabinet. Do arm curls between meetings or tasks.

6. Join forces

Organize a lunchtime walking group. Enjoy the camaraderie of others who are ready to lace up their walking shoes. You can hold each other accountable for regular exercise and offer encouragement to one another when the going gets tough.

7. Conduct meetings on the go

When it’s practical, schedule walking meetings or walking brainstorming sessions. Do laps inside your building, or if the weather cooperates, take your walking meetings outdoors.

8. Pick up the pace

If your job involves walking or biking, do it faster. The more you walk and bike, and the quicker your pace, the greater the benefits.

9. If you travel for work, plan ahead

If you’re stuck in an airport waiting for a plane, grab your bags and take a brisk walk. Choose a hotel that has fitness facilities — such as treadmills, weight machines or a pool — or bring your equipment with you. Jump-ropes and resistance bands are easy to fit into a suitcase. Of course, you can do jumping jacks, planks, crunches and other simple exercises without any equipment at all.

10. Try a treadmill desk

Consider a more focused walk-and-work approach. If you can safely and comfortably position your work surface above a treadmill — with a computer screen on a stand, a keyboard on a table or a specialized treadmill-ready vertical desk you might be able to walk while you work.

In fact, research suggests that overweight office workers who replace sitting computer time with walking computer time might lose weight and increase daily physical activity. The pace doesn’t need to be brisk, nor do you need to break a sweat. The faster you walk, however, the more calories you’ll burn. Although, you’ll probably need to keep the speed at 1 mph, as it’s more challenging to type if you walk faster than that.

Want more ideas for workplace exercises? Schedule a walking meeting to brainstorm ideas with your supervisors or co-workers. Remember, any physical activity counts.

Talking to children about coronavirus

Every news outlet seems to be talking nonstop about the new coronavirus, which is causing an illness called COVID-19. Many parents understandably are sharing concerns, too — at least among friends and families. Even at school, children are hearing about this new virus and registering that some adults seem worried.

Given all the discussion about this coronavirus, your children might have heard about it and have questions for you. Below are some tips on how to respond to their questions. (A separate post will address tips for talking with teens about the questions they might have.)

Provide just enough information about the new coronavirus

Try to strike a balance between answering questions well enough without fueling the flame of anxiety. Children have elaborate imaginations that may lead them to create unnecessarily catastrophic stories in their minds if parents do not talk at all, or enough, about a topic like this. At the other end of the spectrum, providing too much information may create extra alarm.

So what can you do? Think about what your child absolutely needs to know to understand what the virus is and what to do about it. If you have your own questions about the coronavirus, check reliable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which offers a range of information about the virus. The World Health Organization’s myth busters page can help you give correct answers to some surprising questions and misinformation that is spreading.

Four questions children may have about the new coronavirus

Before you start, ask what your child knows so far in case you need to clarify anything, and find out what questions your child has. Below are four common questions your child might ask and suggested responses.

What is the new coronavirus? The new coronavirus is a kind of germ that can make people feel sick. Remember how the flu made (you/your classmate/anyone your child knows) feel? It can be a lot like getting the flu. Some people feel just a little bit sick. Some people get a fever and a cough. Sometimes, the cough can make it hard to breathe easily.

How do you catch this coronavirus? The virus spreads like the flu, or a cold or cough. If a person who has the coronavirus sneezes or coughs, germs that are inside the body come outside of the body. That’s because sneezes and coughs can send tiny drops carrying germs into the air.

There is a lot of traveling those germs would have to do to get inside another body, though, and make someone else sick. A healthy person would need to touch those germs that came out of the sneezes and coughs, and then touch their mouth, eyes, or inside their nose. Those are places where the germs can get inside the body.

Kids and grownups can try their best to stay healthy by continuing their usual activities and practicing these healthy behaviors:

  • Sneeze or cough into tissues (and throw them away) or sneeze or cough into your elbow. This helps keep germs from traveling and making other people sick.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water at the same times you usually do, like after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose. When you wash your hands, remember to count slowly to 20. (Parents can help by singing the ABCs or “Happy Birthday” with their children the number of times it takes for 20 seconds to pass. This helps children remember to wash for a sufficient amount of time.)
  • Try to keep your hands out of your mouth, eyes, and nose.

Why are some people wearing masks? Should I wear a mask? Masks are for people who are sick to wear so that they don’t share germs. The masks also are for medical staff, like doctors and nurses, to wear so they can help people who have the virus. You do not need to wear a mask.

Can you die from the new coronavirus? Most people who have caught the virus have not died, just like with the flu. Doctors are working really hard to keep an eye on anyone who is feeling sick. They want to make sure everyone gets the help they need and to keep the virus from spreading.

What is important is that you keep doing what you love to do and not let worries about the virus boss you around. If you’re doing what you love while practicing healthy behaviors like sneezing into your elbow and washing your hands after you go to the bathroom, then you’re showing the virus and the worries who is boss instead!

Model calmness about the new coronavirus

Even though you may be concerned yourself, it is important to model calmness when talking about the virus. Children will look to you to see how afraid they should be. Think about flying on an airplane when there is turbulence. A flight attendant that appears terrified may make you think there is something really wrong and you should worry. If a flight attendant calmly offers you a beverage with a smile, you might think there’s just some windy weather that will pass soon.

Limit news exposure on the new coronavirus

Although the news can be helpful by keeping everyone informed, sometimes news stories can use wording that is strong and scary for children. Try to limit news-viewing to the hours after children go to sleep, or read the news independently so that children do not hear the stories.

Keep an eye out for reassurance seeking

It’s natural for children to ask questions, particularly about something that is new to them. Sometimes, though, a child’s anxiety seems to be asking the questions, prompting a behavior called reassurance seeking. It may look like a child repeatedly asking the same or similar questions, yet the child’s distress increases no matter how many times you answer the questions. If you notice repeated reassurance seeking (repeated asking of the questions above, for example), then it might be helpful to seek support to help your children manage anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can offer your family strategies for handling and easing reassurance-seeking behaviors. Ask your doctor to recommend mental health professionals who practice CBT and have experience working with children struggling with anxiety.

Remember, everyone is working hard to manage the virus. You can show your children that you, too, can continue to do what is important to you while practicing healthy behaviors.

COVID-19: Children and masks

Should Children wear a mask?

WHO advises that people always consult and abide by local authorities on recommended practices in their area. An international and multidisciplinary expert group brought together by WHO reviewed evidence on COVID-19 disease and transmission in children and the limited available evidence on the use of masks by children.

Based on this and other factors such as childrens’ psychosocial needs and developmental milestones, WHO and UNICEF advise the following:

Children aged 5 years and under should not be required to wear masks. This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance.

WHO and UNICEF advise that the decision to use masks for children aged 6-11 should be based on the following factors:

  • Whether there is widespread transmission in the area where the child resides
  • The ability of the child to safely and appropriately use a mask
  • Access to masks, as well as laundering and replacement of masks in certain settings (such as schools and childcare services)
  • Adequate adult supervision and instructions to the child on how to put on, take off and safely wear masks
  • Potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development, in consultation with teachers, parents/caregivers and/or medical providers
  • Specific settings and interactions the child has with other people who are at high risk of developing serious illness, such as the elderly and those with other underlying health conditions

WHO and UNICEF advise that children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-meter distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.

What type of mask should children wear?

Children who are in general good health can wear a non-medical or fabric mask. This provides source control, meaning it keeps the virus from being transmitted to others if they are infected and are not aware that they are infected. The adult who is providing the mask should ensure the fabric mask is the correct size and sufficiently covers the nose, mouth and chin of the child.

Children with underlying health conditions such as cystic fibrosis, cancer or immunosuppression, should, in consultation with their medical providers, wear a medical mask. A medical mask controls spreading of the virus and protection to the wearer and is recommended for anyone who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

How should children wear a mask?

Children should follow the same principles as adults for wearing masks. This includes cleaning hands at least 20 seconds if using an alcohol-based hand rub, or at least 40 seconds if using soap and water, before putting on the mask. Make sure the mask is the right size to cover the nose, mouth and chin. Children should be taught how to wear the mask properly, including not touching the front of the mask and not pulling it under the chin or into their mouth. They should store the mask in a bag or container, and not share the mask with others. `

Should a child wear mask at home?

Any child who has symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 should wear a medical mask, as long as they can tolerate it. The child should be isolated, and medical advice sought as soon as they start to feel unwell, even if symptoms are mild. Family members/caregivers who come within 1-meter of the sick child at home should also wear a mask.

A household member who is sick or has tested positive with the virus that causes COVID-19 should be isolated from everyone else if possible. If the child comes within 1-meter of the sick person at home, the adult and child should wear a medical mask during that time.

Should teachers or other adults working with children wear mask?

In areas where there is widespread transmission, all adults under the age of 60 and who are in general good health should wear fabric masks when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-meter distance from others. This is particularly important for adults working with children who may have close contact with children and one another.

Adults aged 60 or over, or who have any underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung cancer, should wear a medical mask because of their higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

Should children wear a mask when playing sports or doing physical activities?

Children should not wear a mask when playing sports or doing physical activities, such as running, jumping or playing on the playground, so that it doesn’t compromise their breathing. When organizing these activities for children, it is important to encourage all other critical public health measures: maintaining at least a 1-meter distance from others, limiting the number of children playing together, providing access to hand hygiene facilities and encouraging their use.

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