World Cancer Day

Between the 20th and 21st centuries, medical research has made great strides in identifying what causes some cancers, and hopefully, these cancers will be entirely preventable one day.

In some instances, like breast cancers, mortality rates have decreased significantly.

While technology continues to fight cancer, our world population is also growing older, and new cancer cases, such as prostate cancer, or lung cancer are increasing. Global statistics say that the number will increase by 40% before 2030.

What Is World Cancer Day?

We want to raise awareness about cancer—especially prostate cancer in men—in honour of World Cancer Day, an international event that takes place yearly on February 4th.

The term ‘cancer’ applies to many diseases that cause normal cells in a body to grow abnormal lumps, called tumours. Leukemia, a blood disease, is the only type of cancer not spread by tumours.

Without treatment, the main (or primary) cancer tumour spreads through the body’s bloodstream and lymphatic systems. Uncontrolled cancers may disrupt the digestive, nervous and circulatory systems and permanently affect bodily function.

The most diagnosed types of cancer in Canada are:

  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Non-melanoma skin cancers
  • Prostate cancer affects more Canadian men than any cancer except non-melanoma skin cancers, and prostate cancer is the third deadliest cancer in Canadian men.

We’re going to discuss more important facts about prostate cancer after we explain the stages of cancer.

Stages of Cancer

When cancer gets diagnosed, it’s classified into a stage, which means how far the disease has progressed in the body. Classifying cancer by its stage also helps determine appropriate treatments and how successful they may be in fighting cancer.

The TNM staging system is most often used by oncologists (cancer specialists) to communicate a cancer diagnosis to patients, caregivers, and other specialists. TNM classifications also assist in ongoing cancer research. 

TNM stands for this:

  • T describes the primary tumour size
  • N describes if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
  • M describes if the primary cancer tumour has metastasized (or spread) throughout the body.

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Researchers aren’t sure what causes prostate cancer. Still, the disease causes cell DNA in the male prostate to grow and divide abnormally into a tumour that continues to attack healthy tissue.

Undetected prostate tumours can also spread throughout the body. Here are some shocking statistics about the disease:

  • In 2021, 20% of Canadian men (approximately 24,000 men) diagnosed with cancer had prostate cancer.
  • In 2021, 10% of Canadian men who died from cancer (approximately 4,500 men) had prostate cancer.
  • The current national average is 66 Canadian men diagnosed with prostate cancer daily, and 12 Canadian men with prostate cancer die each day.

Can Prostate Cancer Be Prevented?

Cancer researchers believe that approximately one-third of all cancers are preventable by making lifestyle or dietary changes. 

It’s essential to focus on prostate cancer prevention and screening for this disease because there are few—if any—early warning signs. Sometimes, prostate cancer stays silent and may not spread or worsen for years.   

Here are risk factors for prostate cancer:

Age: Prostate cancer is most common after 50.

Race: Researchers say that Black people appear to be at greater risk of prostate cancer, and the disease affects Black men more aggressively for undetermined reasons.

Genetics: Prostate cancer risks increase when an immediate family member (parents, siblings, or children) has had the disease. Researchers also think prostate cancer risks increase in families with a history of BRCA 1 or 2 breast cancers.

Obesity. Although research shows mixed results, prostate cancer risks may increase in heavily overweight people. In addition, the disease appears to be more aggressive in obese men, and they often relapse after their first treatment for prostate cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

Because prostate cancer gives its victims few warning signs, it’s important to tell your doctor or a medical professional if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night, is at times urgent and difficult to hold back
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Weak urine flow or dribbling
  • Difficulties with erections (the amount of semen during ejaculation is lower, or ejaculations are painful)
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pressure or pain in the rectum
  • Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs.

Having these symptoms doesn’t mean you have prostate cancer. But it’s important to rule out prostatitis or Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (also known as prostate enlargement), which are common, benign conditions with similar symptoms.

Let’s Raise Awareness About One Prostate Cancer Myth

If you’re having constant problems getting an erection, you may be worried about prostate cancer.

Yes, erectile dysfunction can be a cancer symptom, but diabetes, smoking, and cardiovascular issues also cause it. Erectile dysfunction can also be a normal function of aging. 

We recommend that anyone experiencing symptoms that are out of the ordinary to please see a doctor or men’s health specialist. It’s important to put your physical and mental health first because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Best Ways to Prevent All Cancers

Cancer prevention is important all year, not just on World Cancer Day.

The best ways to prevent cancer are:

  • Cutting back or quitting tobacco
  • Losing some weight
  • Get a bit more active
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Ensure your workplace is free of carcinogens or radiation.

When you incorporate these lifestyle changes, you may prevent over one-third of all cancers.

You should also know the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) vaccination can help prevent liver cancer in people, just like the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can help prevent cervical cancer in women.

How to Help Prevent Prostate Cancer

You can decrease your risk of prostate cancer with dietary changes like eating more fruits and vegetables and ingesting more fibre and fish oils. In addition, try to eat fewer red meats, saturated (bad) fats, and refined carbs like white bread.  

Good lifestyle changes include reducing your stress levels, getting better sleep, exercising more (even moderately), and avoiding steroid or hormone use, especially androgens.

But what’s our best prevention tip?

To help decrease your risk of prostate cancer and improve your mental and physical health and outlook on life, we always suggest that you have more sex!

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Mayoclinic.org. 2021. Prostate cancer – Care at Mayo Clinic – Mayo Clinic. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostate-cancer/care-at-mayo-clinic/mac-20353097> [Accessed 15 January 2022].

Lee, S., 2022. Prostate cancer statistics. [online] Canadian Cancer Society. Available at: <https://cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/prostate/statistics?_ga=2.140602480.352915362.1644346868-1742641588.1644346868> [Accessed 15 January 2022].

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Moorthy HK, Venugopal P. Strategies for prostate cancer prevention: Review of the literature. Indian J Urol. 2008;24(3):295-302. doi:10.4103/0970-1591.42608

Griffin, M., 2020. Sex, Masturbation, and Prostate Cancer: What’s the Link?. [online] WebMD. Available at: <https://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/ejaculation-prostate-cancer-risk> [Accessed 15 January 2022].

National Cancer Institute. n.d. NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. [online] Available at: <https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/tnm-staging-system> [Accessed 15 January 2022].

Worldcancerday.org. 2022. Official website of World Cancer Day by UICC | 4 February. [online] Available at: <https://www.worldcancerday.org/> [Accessed 20 January 2022].