Prostate cancer: the benefits of a comprehensive approach

The majority of men affected by prostate cancer are more likely to die from other chronic diseases than from this cancer. These results suggest that the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits intended to counter the development of these diseases is of capital importance for the survival of these patients.

In Western countries (America, Western Europe), one in six men will be affected by prostate cancer, which makes it the most frequently diagnosed cancer in these populations. These diagnoses are increasingly relying on the measurement of PSA, a protein whose levels in the blood become higher in the event of abnormal prostate growth.

This screening procedure allows oncologists to follow the evolution of the tumor and intervene quickly to restrict its growth. The PSA test is very sensitive and also allows the detection of minimally invasive cancers, which evolve very slowly and generally do not endanger the person’s life. Consequently, even if the incidence of prostate cancer has increased since the implementation of these screening programs, the mortality associated with these cancers has remained stable. Thus, data compiled from patients diagnosed with prostate cancer indicate that 80% of these men had localized, minimally invasive cancer and a relatively reduced risk (8%) of dying from the consequences of this disease in the decade that followed. the diagnosis. In other words, if the PSA test has detected several additional cases of prostate cancer, these cancers are in many cases not very threatening and do not represent a major cause of short-term mortality.

Treatments not always appropriate

Several options are available to treat advanced, life-threatening prostate cancers. On the other hand, when they are applied to cancers with a low risk of mortality, studies indicate that these treatments have major side effects that can considerably reduce the quality of life, without significantly increasing patient survival. The application of these treatments therefore poses a dilemma, both for doctors and for patients. It is also important to consider that the majority of patients diagnosed with these minimally invasive cancers are men over the age of 65, who are also at risk of developing other chronic diseases associated with aging (heart disease, diabetes). Given the slow progression of these cancers, these chronic diseases may therefore represent a greater risk of mortality in the short term than cancer as such.

Prioritize a global approach

And it seems that this is indeed the case: after examining the records of nearly 700,000 Swedish and American patients with the disease between 1961 and 2008, researchers noted that only 35% of Swedish men and 16% of Americans were died of prostate cancer. In other words, even after a diagnosis of cancer, men are more likely to die from other chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases, than from this cancer!

In addition to following the recommendations of their oncologist, men with minimally invasive prostate cancer can also reap significant benefits by adopting a holistic, whole-lifestyle approach to reduce the risk of these chronic diseases. Prostate cancer is one of those that is modulated by lifestyle, as indicated by the variation in incidence in population migrations. In this sense, quitting smoking, healthy eating, maintaining a normal weight and regular physical activity must be considered essential weapons to increase both the quality and the life expectancy of patients.

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Epstein MM et al. Temporal trends in cause of death among Swedish and US men with prostate cancer. J. Natl Cancer Institute


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