In a recent opinion article published in Live Science, Dr. Troy Sukkarieh, a board-certified urologic surgeon specialized in robotic and advanced laparoscopic surgery, disserted on the incidence of prostate cancer in young men.
Over the last 20 years, the number of young men diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased by almost six fold. This is especially concerning, since this type of cancer in younger men is usually more aggressive.
Normally, older men in their 70’s or 80’s are the most affected population by prostate cancer, and as a consequence, younger men do not routinely undergo prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and rectal exams until the recommended age of 50 years old.
Because prostate cancer does not usually manifest any physical symptoms in its early stages, if younger men are diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer, it means it has already progressed to later-stages, becoming more difficult to treat and, consequently, more life threatening.
Another factor that can influence the necessity for regular screening on younger men is their family history of prostate cancer, since genetics can enhance cancer risk by two to three times, further increasing with multiple affected relatives.
Food is also another factor that can influence a man’s predisposition to develop prostate cancer. Several studies have demonstrated that red meat, fried and processed foods, saturated animal fats and a diet high in dairy, can increase and accelerate the progression of cancer. Furthermore, obesity is also an added risk contributor.
The informed opinion of an oncologist regarding all different treatment options available is crucial upon prostate cancer diagnosis, since the question of whether younger men should have surgery right away, or if they should wait to see how it progresses, has been a controversial one.
Even though surgery can result in efficient removal of the tumor, it could also lead to significant side effects, such as erectile dysfunction or chronic urinary incontinence.
Finally, Dr. Sukkarieh recommends that men should not skip their annual checkups, since prostate cancer when diagnosed early, can be a highly treatable disease. For men younger than 40 years of age, an honest conversation with their doctor is encouraged, to understand what are their personal risk factors and determine if PSA testing is an appropriate option.