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Self-Care Makes a Difference in Preventing and Detecting Prostate Cancer and Gynecologic Cancers

Publication: Jewish Austin

What Comes to Mind When You Think of Self-Care?

Exercise, nutrition, and sleep are probably at the top of your list. Taking care of your mental health, time outdoors, and staying connected to loved ones are equally as important.

Chances are, COVID-19 has impacted your self-care practices. Due to difficulty managing the stresses of the pandemic in healthy ways, physical health among adults in the United States may be declining, according to a recent study by the American Psychological Association. Coupled with that, nearly half of U.S. adults have put off or canceled healthcare services altogether.

September is Prostate Cancer and Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month. Learn the early symptoms of these cancers that you shouldn’t ignore. And incorporate healthy habits – such as cancer screenings – into your self-care routine that can help prevent or detect a cancer diagnosis early.

Educate Yourself on Prostate and Gynecologic Cancers

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the U.S. Because men often don’t have symptoms in early stages, prostate cancer is known as a silent killer.

Gynecologic cancer – including, ovarian, cervical, and uterine (endometrial) cancers – is any cancer that begins in a woman’s reproductive organs, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As women age, so, too, does their risk for gynecologic cancers, the CDC also notes.

Prioritize Self-Care With Good Nutrition and Exercise

It’s no secret that exercise and eating nutrition-rich foods can greatly impact your overall health. But did you know some diet choices may help prevent prostate cancer and gynecologic cancers, specifically?

Soy, pomegranate, green tea, flaxseed, turmeric, and broccoli are all rich in substances that may help prevent prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, avoiding foods and beverages high in sugar could reduce the risk of uterine cancer. And regular exercise is known to reduce risk of ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers.

Check Regularly for New Symptoms or Changes

One of the best ways to practice self-care is to notice any new or sudden changes in your body. Men should pay attention to common prostate cancer symptoms, including frequent or painful urination; blood in urine or semen; or stiffness in the lower back.

Symptoms often associated with gynecologic cancers include, but are not limited to, pain in the abdomen or pelvic area; painful intercourse; heavier, painful, or irregular periods; urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency); or unexpected weight loss.

If you experience any of these symptoms it is recommended to reach out to your physician. While it could be an easily treated condition, it could be something more serious requiring more urgent care.

Schedule Your Cancer Screenings or Testing

When detected early, the ability to treat and survive both prostate and gynecologic cancers is exponentially greater.

Men should discuss with their physicians the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening. Most men should consider regular prostate screenings beginning at age 55, but at earlier ages if relatives have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Women should begin regular Pap tests in their 20s, which is the most effective screening tool for cervical cancer. While uterine and ovarian cancer can occasionally be detected through routine pelvic exams, talk with your physician about other ways to reduce your risk. Men and women should both consult your physician about your personal cancer risks and when, and how often, to test.

Good self-care should always include cancer screenings and regular monitoring for any changes in your body. Your life-long health is worth it.

This article appeared in the Jewish Austin (September 2022 issue).