Statistics shows that prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths for men and ovarian cancer is the fifth leading for women. Prevention and early detection are crucial in fighting these fatal diseases. Research shows that early diagnosis and treatment can improve the survival rate to 90% or higher. Employers are encouraged to incorporate wellness initiatives that will inform their employees about the symptoms, risks, and prevention of both prostate and ovarian cancer.
Prostate cancer symptoms
It’s been estimated that there will be 241,740 new cases and 28,170 deaths from prostate cancer in 2012 alone. Individuals with early forms of prostate cancer often do not exhibit unusual symptoms. It’s recommended that men over the age of 50 who have high risk factors should get screened. Men with the symptoms listed below should contact their doctors immediately, since they can often signal an advanced form of the cancer:
Difficult or frequent urination
Blood in urine
Change in semen quality or quantity
Loss of potency or libido
Pain during ejaculation
The following factors will put men at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer:
Age – Men 50 and over are at greater risk.
Family history – Men whose father, brother, or son had the disease will have a higher individual risk than the average male.
Vitamin E and Folic Acid – Vitamin E and folic acid supplements or fortified foods, like whole grain bread and cereals are shown to increase risk.
Dairy and calcium – Research shows that diets high in dairy and calcium may slightly increase risk.
Ovarian cancer symptoms
It’s estimated that, in 2012, there will be 22,280 new cases and 15,500 deaths from this disease. Unlike prostate cancer, early forms of ovarian cancer do carry specific symptoms. Woman experiencing any of the following symptoms for two weeks or more should visit their doctors immediately:
Abdominal pain, bloating or swelling
Gas, nausea or indigestion
Frequent and urgent urination
Weight gain or loss
Changes in bowel habits
The following factors will put woman at a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer:
Family history of ovarian cancer – Women whose mother or sister had ovarian cancer or two or more relatives diagnosed with the disease will have an increased risk.
Inherited risk – Women inheriting a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene – also known as tumor suppressor – will have an increased risk.
Hormone replacement therapy – Use of estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause is known to increase risk.
Fertility Drugs – Use of fertility drugs may increase a woman’s overall risk.
Talc – Use of talcum powder has been shown to increase risk.
Obesity – Obesity, especially during the teenage years, has been shown to increase risk and death from ovarian cancer.
Incorporating initiatives against prostate and ovarian cancer
Studies show the best way to prevent any form of cancer is to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. HR professionals can incorporate several initiatives in their wellness program that focus on information, nutrition, exercise, and healthy behavior of both prostate and ovarian cancer. Some examples include:
Arming your employees with information – Provide employees with the facts they need on the diseases.
Providing nutritional counseling and healthy food options in the workplace – Counseling will help target specific employee dietary needs.
Inviting trainers to conduct on-site exercise classes – Include classes like aerobics and yoga that help the body adjust to stress.
Implementing a smoking secession program – Tobacco use is a leading cause of cancer. The sooner it stops, the lower the risk of cancer.
Working with a health care provider to cover cancer screenings for high-risk employees – Be sure necessary exams and screening are covered to provide your employees opportunities for early detection.
The bottom line
Prostate and ovarian cancer are among the most fatal types of cancer. Implementing wellness initiatives that inform your employees about the symptoms and risks, and provide ways to improve their lifestyle will help them reduce their risk of developing cancer.