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Cancer of the Prostate is the most common form of cancer in men, and around 2,700 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Ireland every year. During November (or Movember as it is now called), thousands of men around Ireland sprout moustaches to raise awareness about this condition.
The prostate is a small gland, which is located below the bladder in men. It wraps around the urethra (through which the urine flows out of the body), and is responsible for secreting seminal fluid.

The symptoms of prostate cancer are usually due to pressure on the urethra, and include difficulty starting to urinate, weak or interrupted flow, difficulty stopping urination, and needing to urinate more frequently. These symptoms are virtually identical to those caused by benign enlargement of the prostate, which is much more common than prostate cancer. However, it is always worth getting any unusual symptoms checked out.

Since the prostate gland is located very close to the wall of the rectum, assessment can be carried out by a rectal examination. A blood test to measure the level of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) may also be used to indicate whether further investigations are necessary, in which case a prostate biopsy may be performed. However, the PSA test is not a specific test for prostate cancer: PSA can be raised due to benign enlargement or inflammation of the prostate, and up to two thirds of men with a raised PSA do not have prostate cancer.

In many cases, prostate cancer causes no symptoms at all in the early stages, and therefore regular checks are important, especially if you are over 50, or if you have a family history of the condition

Fortunately, prostate cancer is usually very slow growing, and it is therefore less likely to spread to other parts of the body than other forms of cancer. However, early detection and treatment are still vital to offer the best chance for a full recovery. There are also many natural ways to help prevent prostate cancer, and to aid recovery for those who have already been diagnosed with the condition.

Avoid wearing tight fitting underwear or trousers, as this restricts lymphatic drainage, which in turn prevents removal of toxins from the area and interferes with healthy immune function.  Make sure you go outside for a walk every day since the main source of vitamin D is the action of sunlight on the skin, and people who are deficient in this vitamin more likely to develop various forms of cancer.

Men who eat a lot of red meat and dairy products have been shown to have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer than those who do not. Therefore it is important to cut down on consumption of red meat and dairy products (such as cheese), and to eat more chicken, turkey and fish, especially oily fish such as mackerel, tuna, salmon and trout.

It is also very important to eat plenty of fresh organic fruit and vegetables, particularly those which are coloured, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, greens, cherries and other berries.  These contain antioxidants and other essential nutrients, which are very important in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. One nutrient that has been shown to be particularly beneficial is lycopene, which is found in tomatoes. For maximum absorption, it is best to drizzle fresh, ripe, preferably organic tomatoes with olive oil and grill before eating.

A professional medical herbalist can provide an individually-tailored herbal prescription, and detailed advice about diet and nutritional supplements to help with cancer prevention and improving the chances of recovery.  Of course there is no magic cure for cancer, but taking a holistic approach to healthcare can help to create an environment in the body which does not encourage its growth, and can help to give the immune system the upper hand.