September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and Bastyr University is working to tackle the disease on multiple fronts. Calling for prevention, early detection and new cancer research are the ways Bastyr is working to make strides against this growing epidemic.
Who’s at risk?
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, though only 1 in 34 will die of it.
Factors that can increase your risk of prostate cancer include:
· Age. The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. Prostate cancer is most common in men over 65.
· African American background. Though it is not clear why, African American men have a greater risk of prostate cancer and a higher chance of dying from the disease than men of other races.
· Family history of prostate cancer. If a close relative had prostate cancer, your risk may be increased and annual screenings are suggested for those age 45 and older.
· Obesity. Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer are more likely to have the disease spread outside of the prostate gland, making it more difficult to treat.
Prevention and Early Detection
All men over the age of 50, especially those who fit the risk factors noted above, should take a quick and easy blood test once a year to be screened for the disease.
Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the University’s teaching clinic in the Fremont/Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle has expert naturopathic physicians who can also help you take a preventive approach to prostate cancer by providing guidance on the importance of a healthy diet, exercise and balanced lifestyle.
Another important step in preventing and detecting prostate cancer is to be aware of the symptoms. While prostate cancer may not cause signs or symptoms in its early stages, more advanced signs and symptoms can include:
· Trouble urinating, loss of bladder control
· Decreased force in the stream of urine
· Blood in your urine and/or semen
· Swelling in your legs
· Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet
· Pain or discomfort in the spine, hips, or other bones
· Weight loss and fatigue
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests are offered at Bastyr Center. Seniors (ages 62 and older) without qualifying health insurance are eligible for $15 visits to any department at any time (additional charges apply for lab work.) You may schedule an appointment by calling (206) 834-4100.
Prostate Cancer Research at Bastyr
In the coming months, the Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center (BIORC) will begin a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of medicinal mushrooms on prostate cancer. Thanks to a multimillion-dollar grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the fully funded trials are a partnership between Bastyr University and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), which includes the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital. Be sure to stay tuned for more information this winter, when the clinical trial will begin.