In the United States one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according the American Cancer Society. Yet many men are putting off life-saving cancer screenings due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Prostate cancer is far too common to ignore; however, some men are unwilling to get checked during the pandemic.
The method for testing for prostate cancer is simple: a conversation with your doctor and a blood draw. The initial prostate cancer screening is the prostate specific antigen (PSA) exam. It is not a physical exam. A doctor can include PSA test with any lab order for blood work.
How pandemic habits may contribute to increased risk
There is an important diet, fitness and wholeness component to prostate cancer that many men are unaware of. These factors all have a significant impact on health outcomes.
Since the pandemic there has been an increase of bad habits among patients who are coping with being shut in/much more inactive. These habits can contribute to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Additional pandemic-based risk factors include:
– Men are putting off healthcare and ignoring health issues because of the pandemic even though testing continues to be crucial.
– Doctors are seeing a surge in weight gain/belly fat from patients because they are reporting lack of exercise and poor diet choices. Studies show if your belly circumference measures greater than 36 inches, you are at greater risk of prostate cancer.
– Smoking. As a coping mechanism, many men have started smoking or have upped their smoking because they are experiencing stress, boredom and loneliness during the pandemic. Many health professionals feel that smoking can dictate the level of prostate cancer a man will have and also affect their ability to fight it.
Important facts about prostate cancer
– Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, both in the U.S. and globally.
– Approximately 192,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed this year: 1 in 9 men. 1 in 6 African American men.
– All men are at risk, but the risk increases significantly as men age. Men from 55 to 70 should talk with their doctor about a PSA testing on a 1 to 2-year basis.
Risk factors and early screening
Some men are at a higher risk for prostate cancer at a significantly younger age; as early as 40 years old. Early prostate cancer screening including a PSA test has been suggested by some doctors for men ages 40-54 if they meet the following criteria:
– They are of African-American decent.
– They have a father, brother, son, uncle or grandfather who has had prostate cancer.