Optimizing Quality of Life During and After Prostate Cancer Treatment

image of healthy foodsLifestyle changes are among the top recommendations for the prevention of prostate cancer and recurrence according to the American Cancer Society. Their recommendations include eating at least 2 ½ cups of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables each day, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. You may also limit calcium supplements, avoid eating overcooked or charbroiled meats, and include more cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower) and cooked tomato products that are rich in lycopene.

How can nutrition and exercise help during treatment? If you are having side effects from your treatments, adjusting your diet or lifestyle can help alleviate them.

If you are undergoing radiation and diarrhea is plaguing you, avoid hard-to-digest foods such as citrus or acidic foods, foods high in insoluble fiber (such as wheat and bran), fatty and greasy foods and beverages with caffeine. Focus instead on foods rich in soluble fiber and pectins that have a binding effect such as white rice, applesauce, pears, oatmeal and other oat-based foods. Continue reading

Prostate Cancer and Genetics

One in six men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime. Age and race are two of the most recognized risk factors, but some risk factors can be inherited. Large scale population studies of men who have brothers or fathers with prostate cancer have shown an increase in risk that is two to three times the general population.

Some clues to inherited risk within a family include:

  • Cancer diagnosed at earlier ages than typically expected (under 40)
  • Families with multiple individuals with prostate cancer
  • Other cancers in family members including:
    • Breast cancer
    • Ovarian or uterine cancer
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Colorectal cancer

People concerned about their families’ history of prostate and other cancer may benefit from meeting with a genetic counselor in the Cancer Genetics Clinic to talk about cancer risk, possible genetic testing, screening options or research opportunities. Families who find that they are at a higher risk for prostate cancer and other cancers can benefit from increased screening and prevention options.

Approximately 5-10% of prostate cancers are thought to be related to high risk susceptibility genes, which can be passed from parent to child. Some genes are currently well known, while it is likely some still remain to be discovered. Some of these genes may also be linked to an increase in risk for additional cancers.

Research is ongoing at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and elsewhere to learn and discover new genes associated with a strong family history of prostate cancer.

Continue reading about cancer genetics and prostate canceral

Health Awareness and Cancer Prevention for Men

On June 17, father figures will be celebrated and thanked for all they do.  June is also the month designated to raise Men’s Cancer/Health Awareness and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. Since it was passed by Congress in 1994, National Men’s Health Week.  It is observed every year during the week of June that ends on Father’s Day.   Besides raising men’s health awareness during June, this month also aims to encourage men to schedule regular health check-ups and seek early treatment for disease and injury.

The cancers that most frequently affect men are prostate, colon, lung, and skin cancers.  Knowing about these cancers and how they can be prevented or found early can save your life.

The American Cancer Society suggests these actions to take control of your health and reduce your cancer risk.

Do you want to raise Men’s Health Awareness? Designate a “Wear Blue Day” to help spread the knowledge of Men’s Health Month.  Choose any day that works for your group.  Choose blue accessories, head-to-toe blue work attire, or blue prostate cancer pins to wear in support of the fight against prostate cancer.

Throughout the year, the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center Community Outreach Program provides a “Men’s Fellowship Breakfast” and cancer screenings. Check periodically at the Community Outreach Event website to see when the next breakfast or free screening event is scheduled.  If you would like to talk with someone about cancer prevention, please call the Cancer AnswerLine™ at 800-865-1125 and one of our cancer nurses will help.

Continue learning about men’s cancers and prevention:

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New Test for Prostate Cancer

For many years the PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test, together with a digital rectal exam, has been used as a screening tool to identify men that may have prostate cancer. If the PSA level is elevated, then men typically need to undergo additional testing — including a prostate biopsy. While a useful tool, the PSA test shows only the level of the PSA and can’t tell if prostate cancer or another medical condition is the reason for the elevation.

Enter the PCA3 test — a new urine test that University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have been working on to detect prostate cancer.  The PCA3 urine test can provide additional information to help a man and his physician decide if a prostate biopsy is needed. Simply put: prostate cells have PCA3 genes that stimulate the production of a small amount of a certain protein.  Because prostate cancer cells make more of this protein than normal prostate cells, men with prostate cancer can be identified with this test when PCA3 proteins leak into the urine.

Men interested in PCA3 testing should ask their physician if PCA3 testing is appropriate for their individual situation. The University of Michigan does offer the PROGENSA® PCA3 test as a supplement to the PSA test, upon physician request. To learn more about next steps for PROGENSA® PCA3 urine test at U-M, contact Cancer AnswerLine™ at 800-865-1125.

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Researchers find first major gene mutation associated with hereditary prostate cancer risk

After a 20-year quest to find a genetic driver for prostate cancer that strikes men at younger ages and runs in families, researchers have identified a rare, inherited mutation linked to a significantly higher risk of the disease.

Kathleen Cooney, M.D.

Kathleen Cooney, M.D.

A report on the discovery, published in the January 12, 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, was led by investigators at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of Michigan Health System. The research team found that men who inherit this mutation have a 10 to 20 times higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

While accounting for only a small fraction of all prostate cancer cases, the discovery may provide important clues about how this common cancer develops and help to identify a subset of men who might benefit from additional or earlier screening. This year, an estimated 240,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“This is the first major genetic variant associated with inherited prostate cancer,” says Kathleen A. Cooney, M.D., professor of internal medicine and urology at the U-M Medical School, one of the study’s two senior authors. Continue reading

When to ask for help: Talking about symptoms is first step in treating them

Larry Stone asked for help with symptoms related to his cancer treatment.

Larry Stone asked for help with symptoms related to his cancer treatment.

Larry Stone joined a clinical trial in fall 2009 to test a medication that offered the possibility of prolonging the effectiveness of the hormone therapy he was taking to stave off prostate cancer. When he started to experience mild numbness in his hands and feet later that spring, he didn’t think too much about it. But by June, pain and swelling sent him to the hospital overnight.

His hospital stay relieved his pain somewhat, but it prompted him to ask his oncology team a question: “Is there a specialist I can see?”

That simple question triggered a referral to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Symptom Management and Supportive Care Clinic. Stone met with Susan Urba, M.D. — the clinic’s leader — as well as pharmacist Emily Mackler, Pharm.D. Together, the team mapped out a program to reduce Stone’s discomfort.

“That was the start of a great relationship,” Stone said.

Read more about symptom management in the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s patient publication, Thrive. Or, if you are a U-M patient, call 1-877-907-0859 to make an appointment with the U-M Symptom Management and Supportive Care Clinic.