Did you know frequent ejaculation can prevent prostate cancer?
By Fallon Davis
Urologic oncology and robotic surgeon, doctor Anthony T. Corcoran, says prostate cancer is a disease that can go undetected and often times can be prevented. He specializes in prostate cancer and claims the disease can be maintained, if the majority of men take the proper precautions and recommended visits to their physician to get screened.
With tons of information online about prostate cancer causes and symptoms, one might think they have reached his plateau when it comes to gathering as much information as they can. In the interview below, Dr. Corcoran answers questions only a patient in his office would be inclined to ask of him.Doctor Corcoran is a member of the American Urologic Association and a member of the Continuing Medical Education committees at Winthrop University Hospital, with several years experience in robotic surgery for cancer patients.
What are the best practices or regimens to help with prostate cancer?
Some people who have very slow-growing, low-grade prostate cancers, which is actually a reasonable number of men — we put them on a surveillance program called Active Holistic Surveillance, where instead of treating you for a cure and exposing you to potential side effects of treatment, we monitor the cancer at certain intervals with various PSA tests and MRIs.
We put you on a diet with a holistic type approach, check the genomix of the actual cancer and using all of these tools, we see that you can stay and monitor the cancer rather than treat it. So, for a lot of men, we put them on that kind of active holistic surveillance regimen so that they don’t have to get any potential side effects to treatment.
But for men who have a more advanced disease or aggressive cancer, we recommend treatment and where I work at Winthrop, I do robotic surgery. We also have a very advanced form of radiation called Cyber Knife. So we have a lot of different ways to treat prostate cancer and young men with aggressive disease.
Can you elaborate on holistic methods in more detail?
We put people on dietary supplements, we modify their diets to eliminate high fats, a lot of fish and try to put them on an actual plan… a diet with both vitamin supplements as well as dietary intervention to help keep their prostate cancer at bay.
What are 3-5 things someone with prostate cancer could do to make their condition worse?
Well, I would say for sure, not following up with a doctor if you’re diagnosed with cancer would be one thing to completely avoid. Obviously, diets can influence all cancers – high-fat diets so, in general, you want to stay away from those. Foods high in antioxidants, no smoking, weight loss, controlling diabetes, controlling cholesterol and eating properly are good for prostate cancer and other cancers and there really is not much else that you can do. If you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol or diabetes, it turns out that Formins to treat diabetes and Statins to reduce cholesterol can actually help men with prostate cancer. So those are things you’d want to do.
What is the key to preventing this disease from the start?
Before you get prostate cancer, you want to make sure you go to your doctor and ask for a PSA blood test — that’s the screening test for cancer so you want to get screened. All the evidence supports that screening for prostate cancer saves lives. So, you know, you want to get screened for cancer and start in the mid to late 40s with at least a baseline PSA especially if you’re African-American and especially if you have a family history of prostate cancer. If they have a slightly elevated PSA test, those patients should be monitored more closely because they’re at the highest risk of developing cancer. But everybody in their 50s should be starting to get screened yearly.
Seeing a various types of situations, there are different variables from patient to patient. Are the symptoms the same for everyone or are there aspects of the the disease that cannot be easily read online?
Well, most men don’t have any symptoms for prostate cancer until it’s kind of too late to achieve a cure. That’s why screening is so important. But some men might have symptoms like frequent urination, difficulty urinating, urinary symptoms in general, or blood in the urine. These are all symptoms you should need a urologist’s care.
What about blood in the stool?
Well, that could be cancer but that’s more colon cancer than prostate cancer.
BBC news posted an article saying patients with a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) can make their prostate cancer more aggressive. Is this found out to be true? Why?
Yeah that’s an association — that obesity makes all cancers worse, but yes, prostate cancer is affiliated with that more aggressive disease.
So actually, fat cells and fat…the main food that prostate cancer feeds on is testosterone. The higher your body weight, more fat content or more cholesterol in your body, can help generate what we call androgen synthesis. Androgen synthesis testosterone, as well as other forms of testosterone, can actually help drive the prostate cancer.
Are supplements safe for prostate cancer patients such as Creatine, Viatropin or other steroidal pills?
There’s no association with normal levels of testosterone and the development of prostate cancer, but certainly if you’re taking steroids or other supplements that could be related to steroids then they have a negative influence, yes.
Not all supplements, but supplements that influence testosterone. Like Creatine, probably not related but supplements in general, they’re not regulated by the FDA, so you never know what you’re gonna get. They’re not regulated, you don’t know what’s in them all, there’s no evidence that they definitely help with whatever it is you’re taking them for. I mean, you always have to take them with a grain of salt, but you know, we do have a supplement regimen that may help with prostate cancer on our Active Holistic Surveillance.
A big thing for guys right now is Viatropin and I know that boosts testosterone levels. It hasn’t been approved by the FDA but a lot of bodybuilders use it.
Yeah, I would take that at your own risk, you know. That’s a risk.
At what point can the cancer go from aggressive to fatal?
Well, it’s not fatal from the beginning. Many times we can cure prostate cancer. I saw people in my office today who had problems — we cured them of their prostate cancer. But you know, after it gets to the point where it spreads to other parts of your body, we usually start you on various kinds of hormone therapy to knock out the testosterone. Unfortunately, prostate cancer can outsmart that and actually generate its own testosterone, and eventually it becomes resistant to treatment and then it becomes fatal.
Is surgery or chemotherapy always the answer for curing prostate cancer? What are the various non-invasive treatments?
Not always. But sometimes, people don’t need any treatment done. When the disease is confined to the prostate, either surgery or radiation or a combination of both can be curative. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy are only suppressive, so they really can’t cure, but they can help treat prostate cancer and help keep it at bay.
The goal for someone who has prostate cancer that spreads would be to convert it from an acute disease to more like a chronic disease, like diabetes that you treat and keep it under control for a long time. There’s been a lot of new medicine, some of which our chemotherapy works very well when cancer has spread. So chemotherapy is not curative, but it can be suppressive.
Is intercourse or masturbation recommended for patients with prostate cancer?
You can have sex with prostate cancer. Many men who have treatment with robotic surgery go on to regain their sexual function, so you can lead a normal sex life. There’s actually some evidence that the more ejaculations you have could decrease your risk of prostate cancer so ejaculating frequently — that probably doesn’t hurt.
Need more answers? Dr. Corcoran would love to talk with you one on one. Send him a direct message on Twitter or give him a call at (516) 535-1900.