Written by Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RDN | Medically Reviewed By Dr. Andrea Wolf | Edited By Walter Pacheco | Last Update: June 21, 2024

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a disease that occurs when cells in the prostate gland (only found in men) grow abnormally. Approximately 268,490 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2022.

Men older than 50 are at the highest risk. The 5-year survival rate of prostate cancer is 98% and multiple treatment options are available.

Location of tumors in prostate cancer.
Research suggests there may be a link between asbestos exposure and prostate cancer.

Although specific causes are not completely understood, doctors believe risk factors include age, ethnicity, family history and diet. Asbestos exposure is another potential risk factor under study.

Asbestos Exposure and Prostate Cancer

Multiple studies have shown a potential link between asbestos exposure and prostate cancer. A report in February 2020, for example, concluded there was sufficient evidence to suggest asbestos exposure increases prostate cancer risk. 

Environmental and occupational exposure correlated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. The main method of absorption was inhalation.

A 2003 study analyzed participants of the Finnish Asbestos Screening Campaign. The study followed the health of 23,285 men and 930 women who worked with asbestos. 

These individuals were studied for eight years for cancer occurrence. Results indicated a much higher incidence of prostate cancer when compared to the total Finnish population. Participants were also at a significantly higher risk to develop mesothelioma and lung cancer.

asbestos cement in the mixing phase
Example of asbestos-cement during the mixing phase.

Researchers of a Danish study in 1993 that tested workers at an asbestos cement factory found a 36% increase in the observed number of prostate cancers. The American College of Chest Physicians released a similar study in 1980 that looked at various organs and discovered about half contained asbestos. Of 14 prostate samples, six contained asbestos.

Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

There are multiple treatment options for patients diagnosed with prostate cancer. The five most common treatments for prostate cancer include:

  • Watchful waiting: This is the close monitoring of symptoms to see if any changes occur. This is more common in an early-stage diagnosis.[/li]
  • Surgery: This option is best reserved for patients who are in good health.
  • Radiation therapy: This treatment option uses radiation to kill cancer cells and slow their growth.
  • Hormone therapy: This can remove specific hormones or block their action in order to control the cancer.
  • Chemotherapy: This involves the use of drugs to kill cancerous cells or stop them from dividing.

When considering the best treatment option for you, discuss your overall health, the stage of your cancer and side effects of treatment with your doctor. You may want to explore your eligibility for available clinical trials with your doctor as well.

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