June was Men’s Health Month. Between that and Father’s day, many organizations across the country hosted campaigns to raise awareness about prostate cancer. Many included events that allowed survivors and those diagnosed with prostate cancer to rally together and run—or “Man Up,” as some campaigns had said.
The campaigns raised money for new treatment options and have led to an increase in the number of cases caught during early stages of the disease.
Unfortunately, Men’s Health Month is only 30 days out of 365.
Whether to Watch And Wait: The Do Nothing Treatment Plan
Increased awareness has allowed more cases to be caught early, usually following a prostate-specific antigen test—better known as a PSA blood test—one which reveals levels of this specific protein that has been linked to the disease.
From there, a biopsy can confirm the existence of prostate cancer.
But prostate cancer is a particularly frustrating disease. Even once it’s detected, existing tests cannot predict if a particular case will be aggressive or slow-growing.
In most cases, the cancer is slow growing and never progresses enough to impact a patient’s quality of life. In fact, according to health journalist and author of The Sensitive Gut Michael Lasalandra, most men will develop prostate cancer at some point in their lifetimes.
The New York Times reports that the disease can be found in 30 percent of men over 50. Yet most of them will never be bothered by the disease and likely will never even know they have it.
This has led to growing support of a treatment option called “watch and wait,” or monitoring of the prostate with no treatment, unless the cancer begins to progress.
Yet the idea of waiting while a cancer grows inside of you isn’t a pleasant one.
Natural Treatment Options To Reduce Risk of Prostate Cancer
To deal with the 335 days of the year that don’t fall within Men’s Health Month, some of those who have early stages of the disease and no evidence of cancer beyond the prostate have begun to turn to natural cancer treatments (in a proactive approach called “active surveillance”) that might help them fight back.
Although definitive proof is lacking, there are behavior and dietary changes in this approach that have been shown, through both observational and clinical studies, to help mitigate the risk of developing an aggressive cancer and dying of the disease.
- Making dietary changes that include reducing or eliminating red meat and dairy and eating lots of vegetables.
- Taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, AHCC and herbal anti-inflammatory agents.
- Adopting an exercise program that includes aerobic exercise three times a week.
- Practicing a method of stress reduction, like yoga or meditation.
- Getting a PSA test every three to four months and a digital rectal exam every six months.
- Repeating a biopsy of the prostate every 12 to 24 months.
*Source: “A Watch-and-Wait Prostate Treatment,” The New York Times
The Search for Natural Treatments for Prostate Cancer
As the New York Post discussed in a 2011 article on the disease, less invasive testing, vitamin D and AHCC were some of the medical advancements for Columbia University for dealing with the slow-moving form of this cancer.
AHCC has been used worldwide as a potential treatment option for many chronic diseases such as cancer.
For example, a cohort trial of liver cancer patients who had part of their liver removed found that among patients who received AHCC, only 34.5 percent suffered a recurrence of their cancer, while in the control group 66 percent—almost twice as many—suffered a recurrence. Further, survival rates were higher in the AHCC group compared with the control.
In another study, AHCC was found to help ease the side effects of chemotherapy for patients with late-stage head and neck cancers. Patients had better appetites, felt stronger, and reported less nausea and vomiting when they took AHCC. Their white blood cell counts also improved and they suffered less constipation.
In the prostate category, a study on AHCC performed on 11 advanced cancer patients, three of whom had prostate cancer, found that the PSA levels of prostate cancer patients began dropping significantly after one to two months of treatment with AHCC and had fallen to normal levels by four months.
This study and AHCC’s ability to consistently demonstrate anti-inflammatory activity, immune-stimulating activity, anticancer activity and cancer-preventative actions led it to be studied specifically for its effect on early stage prostate cancer.
The results of one such study in 74 prostate cancer patients, published in the Japanese Journal of clinical Oncology, suggested that AHCC contributed to the stabilization of the disease status of early stage prostate cancer in patients who were being expectantly monitored.
The results of this study and several others have led AHCC to be recommended to many men who have been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer and who are otherwise undergoing a “watch and wait” plan.
Have you or someone you know been told that your best treatment option is to “watch and wait”? Share your story in the comments below.