Prostate cancer treatment and detection are hot topics in medical literature—especially given that 1 in 9 U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. 6 in 10 cases occur in men over age 65. Behind lung cancer, it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men in the U.S., making viable options for prostate cancer treatment a major focus of new medical research.

Most men diagnosed with some form of prostate cancer will never need to treat it. This makes how to predict which prostate cancers are likely to become aggressive and require treatment vs which ones are likely to stay benign a target for new studies in the medical community.

Urine Test for Prostate Cancer Detection

A promising new study from the UK may have identified a urine test that can be used to decide whether men with beginning stages of prostate cancer require further treatment. More studies are needed at this time, but such a breakthrough could save many men from unnecessary testing and help clarify the choice to treat for those with more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

At present, men diagnosed with prostate cancer face a difficult decision. The majority of cases will never progress to more dangerous cancer in a lifetime, but enough do to be concerned by a positive result. For this reason, some men opt to aggressively treat immediately despite potential side effects. 

For those who choose not to treat, anxiety over the possibility of cancer progression often leads to hosts of tests and biopsies, some of them unnecessary and invasive. A non-invasive urine test that could determine the aggressiveness of the cancer would offer peace of mind to these men and be a valuable diagnostic tool to those with the more dangerous variety.

Prostate-specific antigens (PSAs) are currently measured in the blood to help guide the decision, but this method is not very accurate. This is what inspired lead researcher Dr. Shea Connell to aim for development of a more accurate and less invasive urine diagnostic test. Up to 75% of men with elevated PSA in the blood are negative for cancer, and up to 15% who don’t have elevated PSA have the more aggressive form of prostate cancer.

MRI for Prostate Cancer Detection

Meanwhile, researchers at UCLA have developed an MRI-screening method that can detect clinically significant prostate cancers before a more-invasive biopsy is needed. According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Leonard Marks, different tumors are identified more readily by different screening methods. This means a variety of non-invasive options for screening men at high risk is ideal.

New Prostate Cancer Treatment

As far as treatment, there may be more good news on the horizon. In the past, chemotherapy treatments for prostate cancer have been known for their sometimes deleterious side effects. This new treatment combination was not without any adverse effects. However, compared to similar treatments this is not unusual and it was more effective for some of the more aggressive prostate cancers, so it was announced as safe and effective in a new statement from the researchers. More trials are needed.

Lifestyle As Prostate Cancer Treatment

While all men are at risk for developing prostate cancer throughout their lifetime, how aggressively the cancer progresses is far more relevant to health. Inflammation is highly linked to prostate cancer progression, as new evidence from 9/11 first responders proved earlier this year. A study of these first responders revealed that dust inhaled at the World Trade Center may have contributed to an inflammatory cascade that aggravated prostate cancer cells.

Studies show a healthy lifestyle can affect whether or not prostate cancer progresses and how aggressively it progresses if it does. The same lifestyle choices that lower overall body inflammation related to increased cardiovascular health tend to also lower the risk of prostate cancer turning aggressive. For men, high levels of visceral fat—fat distributed to the mid-section which surrounds the vital organs and is metabolically distinct from fat stored on other parts of the body—may signal a warning sign to modify lifestyle factors, as visceral fat is highly associated with inflammation and prostate cancer progression. 

Studies indicate eating unprocessed food, less red meat, more fruits and vegetables, exercising daily, and lowering stress can help lower inflammation that causes visceral fat storage
For more information on lifestyle habits that can lower the risk of developing aggressive forms of prostate cancer, take our quiz on surviving and thriving with prostate cancer.