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Older men may need digital rectal exams to diagnose prostate cancer

Category: Prostate

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men, which is why men should regularly get PSA tests to detect abnormal levels of a certain protein. However, older men may want to consider supplementing this screening. According to a recent study conducted by researchers from Penn State University, while there have been many advancements made in testing services for prostate cancer, the digital rectal exam remains a valuable resource.

This exam is when a doctor examines the surface of the prostate with a gloved finger so he can detect any hard areas or lumps that do not belong there. A PSA test involves drawing blood and having levels of prostate-specific antigen measured. High PSA levels may signify cancer. While men should be regularly getting PSA tests, they should also schedule digital rectal exams as well.

"Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, accounting for over 28,000 deaths yearly," said Jay Raman, M.D., associate professor of surgery at Penn State. "Improvements in screening methodology and refinements in cancer care have contributed, in part, to a reduction in recent mortality rates."

An important test
The researchers came to their conclusions by examining more than 800 men. They were inspired to conducted this study because as men age, the higher their PSA levels can safely be. This means that while the PSA test alone works well for younger men, older guys may need both a PSA test and a rectal exam to be sure that they are cancer-free.

The scientists discovered that many many who were diagnosed with prostate cancer had normal PSA levels for their age, which suggests that older men may want to get a digital rectal exam as well as a PSA test.

Reduce the risk
While getting tested regularly is a good way for men to avoid developing advanced prostate cancer, there are also things that they can do to prevent the carcinoma. For example, the Mayo Clinic recommends that men eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and avoid high-fat foods. In particular, the Clinic recommends than men consume lycopene, which can be found in raw or cooked tomatoes, since this nutrient is often associated with cancer prevention. Also, men should always eat nutrient-rich food rather than consuming supplements, since no studies have shown that supplements can prevent cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information recommends that men eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This healthy fat has been associated with a decreased risk for a number of cancers, which is why men who as concerned about their chances of developing prostate cancer should be sure to get plenty omega-3s into their diet. These fats can be found in fish such as salmon and anchovies, as well as chia seeds, flax seeds and olive oil, which is why men should cook with olive oil rather than butter as much as possible.

Also, men should be exercising regularly to help prevent prostate cancer. The NCBI adds that studies have shown that men who drink a lot of alcohol have an increased risk of prostate cancer over those who abstain.

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