Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bastyr Focuses on Research, Early Detection to Combat Prostate Cancer

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and Bastyr University is working to tackle the disease on multiple fronts. Calling for prevention, early detection and new cancer research are the ways Bastyr is working to make strides against this growing epidemic.

Researcher pours fluid into a beaker
Bastyr researchers are tackling prostate cancer.

Who's at risk?

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, though only one in 34 will die from it.

Factors that can increase your risk of prostate cancer include:

  • Age — The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. Prostate cancer is most common in men older than 65.  
  • African American background — Though it is not clear why, African American men have a greater risk of prostate cancer and a higher chance of dying from the disease than men of other races. 
  • Family history of prostate cancer — If a close relative had prostate cancer, your risk may be increased and annual screenings are suggested for those 45 and older.
  • Obesity — Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer are more likely to have the disease spread outside of the prostate gland, making it more difficult to treat.

Prevention and Early Detection

Men, especially those who fit the risk factors noted above, can take a quick and easy blood test once a year to be screened for the disease. Additionally, all men older than 50 should be tested.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests are offered at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the University's teaching clinic in the Fremont/Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. All seniors ages 62 and older are eligible for $20 visits to any department at any time. To schedule an appointment, call (206) 834-4100.

Bastyr Center's expert naturopathic physicians also can help you take a preventive approach to prostate cancer by providing guidance on the importance of a healthy diet, exercise and balanced lifestyle.

Another important step in preventing and detecting prostate cancer is to be aware of the symptoms. While prostate cancer may not cause signs or symptoms in its early stages, more advanced signs and symptoms can include:

  • Trouble urinating, loss of bladder control
  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Blood in your urine and/or semen
  • Swelling in your legs
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet
  • Pain or discomfort in the spine, hips or other bones
  • Weight loss and fatigue

New Prostate Cancer Research

For those who have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, the good news is that there are ways to fight the disease. One such option is to participate in Bastyr's innovative clinical research trial that will begin this winter.

Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center (BIORC) is working together with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) to recruit patients for a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of medicinal mushrooms on prostate cancer.

Thanks to a multimillion-dollar grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the fully funded trials will take place at SCCA, which is made up jointly of the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children's Hospital.

"We are proud to work side by side with our partners at SCCC in the fight against prostate cancer," said BIORC Medical Director Leanna Standish, PhD, ND, LAc. "By attacking prostate cancer in multiple ways, with collaboration from the best minds available, we at BIORC are hopeful that these clinical trials will produce beneficial results."

Recruitment for the prostate cancer trial will begin in late fall 2011. If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, please call BIORC at (425) 602-3311 to be screened for participation in the study. This is a free, NIH-funded clinical trial for treating prostate cancer.

"Often for prostate cancer, men have been less receptive to medical testing than women," said Dr. Standish. "That's why we are actively asking both men and women to help us find candidates for this innovative study."

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