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The Good News About Prostate Cancer

In spite of the PSA debate, many doctors and their male patients discuss this screening test

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men (second to lung cancer). And, yes, black men tend to be diagnosed with and to die from prostate cancer at higher rates than their white counterparts. Compounding this is the fact that the medical community seems to be confused about whether or not widespread PSA screening is necessary. (A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that in spite of this debate, four out of five doctors routinely talk about prostate cancer screening with their patients.)
But there is good news about this disease. While no one will tell you a prostate cancer diagnosis is no big deal, it is survivable.
In a small study published in the Journal of Urology, men with early prostate cancer who followed a strict vegetarian diet, practiced stress reduction techniques and exercised on a regular basis were able to lower their risk of cancer progression. The very low-fat diet (in which fat made up 10 percent or less of daily calories) was followed by study participants who chose “watchful waiting” instead of active treatment for their cancer. At the end of the one-year study, PSA levels decreased 4 percent and prostate cancer cell growth was inhibited by 70 percent.
A prostate cancer diagnosis usually doesn’t mean a shorter lifespan. A study from the Journal of Clinical Oncology found overall five- and 10-year survival rates for men diagnosed with this cancer to be 99 percent and 95 percent, respectively. When compared with men in the general population, those with prostate cancer had excess mortality of 1 percent at five years and 5 percent at 10 years.


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