According to the CDC, African American men have the highest incidence of prostate cancer of any race in the U.S. and are more than two times more likely to die from the disease. In fact, prostate cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in African American men.
Unfortunately, this means that receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis is something many Black men will encounter in their lifetime. How a man responds to this news can be a matter of life and death.
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After you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s very important to make the necessary lifestyle changes that will improve the quality of your life.
According to Thomas Farrington, prostate cancer survivor and president and founder of the Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN), here are some of the top things a man with prostate cancer needs to stay healthy.
“Knowledge is the best tool to help you survive,” Farrington says. “Black men need to ask ‘should I be treated or go into active surveillance?’ ‘What is my stage of cancer?’ ‘Surgery or radiation?’ Men don’t understand that you must continue to be diligent in post-prostate cancer treatment.”
There are many resources available to learn about prostate cancer facts and treatments, such as PHEN and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
Farrington also stressed an underlying reason for men to educate themselves about recommended lifestyle habits and possible treatments, in addition to maintaining a higher quality of post-cancer life – prostate cancer recurrence.
“Just because you’ve received treatment doesn’t mean the cancer can’t come back, so men to know about available treatments, particularly new treatments that are on the horizon. An example of this is an exiting new treatment that addresses prostate cancer recurrences called Provenge, which uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Many insurance companies cover this, and it’s important for men to be aware of this new option.”
2. The Right Diet
It can be very difficult to adhere to a balanced cancer diet, particularly during treatment, while your body is working overtime to fight the cancer and repair healthy cells that may have been damaged as a side effect of treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. At the same time, many cancer treatments, such as radiation, can leave you weak and without an appetite – this makes it both challenging, yet crucial, to get in those essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body needs in order to fight and regain strength.
“You really do need to be concerned with your diet,” says Dr. Farrington. “One key aspect of a prostate cancer diet is being lower in fat.”
Experts also recommend reducing animal fat in your diet. Studies show that excess fat, primarily red meat and high-fat dairy, stimulates prostate cancer growth. In addition, avoid trans fatty acids (found in margarines, fried and baked goods) and high-calcium diets, which are also both known to promote cancer growth.
Foods known to help aid in maintaining prostate health include: