The Health Of It

Shauna M. Birdsall, ND, Naturopathic Medicine, answered on behalf of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)

Early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for effective treatment. Two major components of early detection of cancer are education to promote early diagnosis and cancer screening. Some early signs of cancer include lumps, sores that fail to heal, abnormal bleeding, persistent indigestion, change in bowel habits and chronic hoarseness. It is important to follow up with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. Some types of cancer can be found before they cause symptoms. Screening involves checking for cancer or precancerous conditions. Ask your doctor for more information about which cancer screening tests are appropriate for you. For more information on specific cancer screening test, Juliet Wilkinson, Oncology Nursing, answered on behalf of Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) When you catch a cancer early, regardless of its origin, it may be more treatable. Take colon cancer, for instance. If you catch the cancer while it is still a small, isolated polyp in the intestine, it can usually be removed with a colonoscopy and you may be able to avoid chemotherapy, radiation or other adjunctive treatments. If cancers are left undiagnosed and therefore untreated, your chances of metastasis (spreading of the cancer) rise.

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Signs & Symptoms Prostate Cancer

In most cases prostate cancer symptoms are not apparent in the early stages of the disease. The symptoms of prostate cancer may be different for each man and any one of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions. As a result, routine screenings in the form of digital rectal exams (DRE) and prostate specific androgen (PSA) tests are important. The American Cancer Society recommends that men make an informed decision with their doctor about whether to be tested for prostate cancer, beginning at age 50. Men with one or more risk factors for prostate cancer should consult with their physician about whether to start routine screening earlier. Urinary symptoms of prostate cancer Because of the proximity of the prostate gland in relation to the bladder and urethra, prostate cancer may be accompanied by a variety of urinary symptoms. Depending on the size and location, a tumor may press on and constrict the urethra, inhibiting the flow of urine. Some prostate cancer signs related to urination include:

  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Difficulty urinating, or trouble starting and stopping while urinating
  • More frequent urges to urinate at night
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Decreased flow or velocity of urine stream
  • Blood in urine (hematuria)

 

Other Prostate Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Prostate cancer may spread (metastasize) to nearby tissues or bones. If the cancer spreads to the spine, it may press on the spinal nerves. Other prostate cancer symptoms include:

  • Blood in semen
  • Difficulty getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Swelling in legs or pelvic area
  • Numbness or pain in the hips, legs or feet
  • Bone pain that doesn’t go away, or leads to fractures
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What factors contribute to cancer health disparities?

Complex and interrelated factors contribute to the observed disparities in cancer incidence and death among racial, ethnic, and under-served groups. The most obvious factors are associated with a lack of health care coverage and low socioeconomic status (SES). SES is most often based on a person’s income, education level, occupation, and other factors, such as social status in the community and where he or she lives. Studies have found that SES, more than race or ethnicity, predicts the likelihood of an individual’s or a group’s access to education, certain occupations, health insurance, and living conditions—including conditions where exposure to environmental toxins is most common—all of which are associated with the risk of developing and surviving cancer. SES, in particular, appears to play a major role in influencing the prevalence of behavioral risk factors for cancer (for example, tobacco smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, and excessive alcohol intake, and health status), as well as in following cancer screening recommendations. Research also shows that individuals from medically under-served populations are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage diseases that might have been treated more effectively or cured if diagnosed earlier. Financial, physical, and cultural beliefs are also barriers that prevent individuals or groups from obtaining effective health care.

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