Editorial contribution by Sally Writes
During the second week of November this year, popular television personality Al Roker announced that he was battling prostate cancer. 66-year-old Roker, who is currently the weather anchor on NBC’s The Today Show, stated that his diagnosis came as a huge shock to him and his family. While he will have to undergo surgery to have the prostate removed, he is thankful that the cancer was detected early and that it can be treated. Although one in every nine men in the USA will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, Roker falls into a category with a considerably higher risk: he is African American.
Genetics and socio-economic factors play a role
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), African American men have a greater risk of getting aggressive prostate cancer at an earlier age, possibly due to a combination of genetic and socio-economic factors. The PCA recommends that African American men who have a parent or sibling who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer commence annual screenings from the age of 40. Men with no family history of the disease need to be screened annually from the age of 50. Roker was diagnosed after a routine physical exam found that his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were elevated. An MRI and biopsy confirmed the diagnosis at the end of September.
Further treatment dependent on surgical findings
Once Roker’s prostate is removed, additional treatment will be determined by the surgical findings. The pathology report that is compiled after examining the prostate will provide valuable information pertaining to the stage, risk level, and chance of recurrence. Unless it is confirmed that the cancer is still active, Roker will not need any secondary treatment. Whether further treatment is required or not, prostate cancer patients such as the NBC anchor need to support their immune systems as much as they can, as it can aid in recovery while also helping to reduce treatment-related side effects. While following a diet filled with nutrient-dense foods is the easiest way to give your immune system a boost, patients with a decreased appetite might benefit more from a quality supplement.
There is light at the end of the tunnel
According to research findings that were reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Genitourinary Cancers Symposium that was held in San Francisco, African American men with prostate cancer can live as long as their Caucasian counterparts if they receive treatment from the same care delivery system. The use of a personalized cancer vaccine, Provenge, was referenced. Administering the vaccine entails taking a white blood cell sample from the patient, exposing the dendritic cells to tumor antigens, and transfusing the adapted cells back into the body. When comparing the results of Caucasian men and African American men who received the treatment, the latter lived over 4.5 years, compared to the 2.5 years of white men.
Research has proven that African American men are at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer. By adhering to a strict screening schedule, however, any abnormalities can be detected early, which increases the recovery rate exponentially.
Photo Credit: August de Richelieu