If you’ve had treatment for prostate cancer, you’ll likely live cancer-free for many years to come. The average 5-year survival rate for this type of cancer is nearly 100%, while the 10- and 15-year rates are just slightly lower at 95% to 98%.
It’s encouraging news. But you may wonder whether your cancer will come back and what you can do to keep it from returning. Here’s a look at how your food choices, exercise, supplements and the medicine you take could play a role.
Even if you get regular exercise and eat nutritious foods, it’s always possible that cancer may return. Research suggests, though, that these habitsmay lower your chances that your cancer will come back.
If you have recovered from prostate cancer, experts say you should follow a cancer-prevention diet that’s high in nutrients and includes:
- Less saturated fat. Red meat (beef, pork, and lamb), poultry with skin, many baked goods, and fried foods, butter, cheese, and other dairy products with whole or 2% milk all have saturated fat. The link between fat and cancer is still not clear, but studies show it may increase your odds of a recurrence.
- Less processed meat. There’s no research that shows eating meat causes cancer to return. But you may want to stay away from red meat and processed meats like hot dogs, sausage, and lunchmeat. Studies have linked these to a higher risk of developing several types of cancer. Plus, meat cooked at a high temperature (frying, broiling, or grilling) can create cancer-causing chemicals.
- Less sugar. Sugar on its own isn’t directly related to cancer, but it could cause you to gain weight, which studies have linked to the disease. Substitute sugary beverages for plain or sparkling water. For more flavor, add mint, citrus, cucumber, or a little fruit juice.
- Fruit and vegetables. Eat whole fruits and veggies in a range of colors. They’re a source of antioxidants, which could lower your chance of some kinds of cancer. Researchers don’t yet know if fruit and vegetables can stop cancer from recurring -- only a few studies have examined the link.
- Whole grains. Oats, quinoa, millet, corn, bulgur, and barley are all foods containing whole grains. Research finds the fiber from whole grains could help prevent cancer.
You may wonder if a vegetarian diet can keep prostate cancer from returning. Researchers have compared this type of diet to one with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and a little meat. They found no proof that vegetarians were less likely to have their cancer come back. But a vegetarian diet is still beneficial because it’s often low in saturated fat and high in fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals (compounds made by plants that may boost health).
Routine exercise is good for your overall health and may stop prostate cancer from returning. Studies have examined different types of cancer, including prostate cancer, and found that active people live longer and lower their odds of another cancer diagnosis. Researchers continue to look into the connection to confirm these results.
Vitamins and supplements
Many people take vitamins, herbs, and supplements to help prevent cancer from recurring. Right now, research doesn’t back this idea. In fact, studies show that if you take more than federally recommended Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamins, you could harm your chances of recovering from cancer. If you’re concerned about your vitamin levels, talk to your doctor before taking a supplement.
Certain medicines may help you stay cancer-free, studies show. Among them:
One study followed men with prostate cancer who had surgery to remove all or part of their prostate gland (prostatectomy). Nearly half took medicine with statins at the time of surgery. Years later, those who took statins had overall lower levels of a protein called prostate-specific antigen (PSA) that signals possible prostate cancer.
Studies of Black men treated for prostate cancer found they were less likely to get the disease again when they took aspirin. The drug could target cancer-causing inflammation, which shows up in higher levels in Black men compared to white men.
People who took aspirin along with other cancer treatments like surgery and radiation had the greatest benefits.
PARP inhibitors. Doctors typically use them to treat breast cancer, but these drugs may also stop prostate cancer from coming back. British scientists discovered that PARP inhibitors could help to kill cancer cells in combination with hormone therapy. Early research results into PARP inhibitors are promising, and researchers continue to study this therapy. PARP inhibitors are also approved for men with prostate cancer who have the gene mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2.