7 Myths and Myth Busters of Prostate Cancer

There are many types of cancers and the least talked about subject is Prostate Cancer. The symptoms and diagnosis can be confusing; if you are not seeking help from a professional medical expert. In fact, Prostate Cancer has been reported as the second leading cause resulting in deaths from Cancer.

Anyone – young or old can be detected with Prostate Cancer. Early screening is recommended and treatment options can be a tough decision. With increasing incidence rates among younger men, early detection and recourse is strongly advised. Here are some common Prostate Cancer myths and facts that can help you take necessary steps.

Myth 1: Treatment or surgery for Prostate Cancer will end your sex life

Although post-surgery recovery can take anywhere between 4 to 24 months; the doctor can operate around the nerve that controls sexual reactions. Sometimes radiation or hormone therapy may affect your sex life. This is not always the case. If you are suffering from Erectile Dysfunction after surgery, consult your doctor for appropriate steps.

Sometimes you can lose bladder control causing urinary leakage but this is very temporary and usually right after the surgery. Most men in fact go back to having full bladder control within a year of their surgery.

Impotence and incontinence may be associated risks for few post-surgical cases, but this is not true for all. Many people are not aware of the functioning of the Prostate gland (which is responsible for replenishing the sperm fluid and ejaculate). It does not affect one’s libido or cause hormone related conditions. There are many treatments available for Prostate Cancer and the course of the treatment, doctor’s expertise, personal risks can make a huge difference in recovery.

Myth 2: It Prostate Cancer Only Affects Elderly Men

Common Myths about prostate CancerAlthough it is true that the risk of getting Prostate Cancer may increase with age, but it does not mean younger men are not at risk at all. It maybe rarer in men under 40 years and can also be a result of overall health and lifestyle. If you are concerned, you could opt for PSA or DRE tests.

If you have a family history of Prostate Cancer there is an increased chance of up to 2 or 3 times that you might also get it. If more males have been diagnosed in your family before then the chances can go up even greatly. Other factors such as ethnicity, geography, related disorders are also important in determining risk plausibility. The median age for men being tested with Prostate Cancer is 60. It is not true that Prostate Cancer is only hereditary.

With increased options for screening and overall changes in lifestyle is causing more younger men to get detected. Age is not necessarily the isolated risk factor. More than 35% of cases have been detected in men under 65 years of age. Although rarer, the condition in younger men below 40 years can also exist. It better to consult your doctor for further medical advice or treatment.

Treatment options for Prostate Cancer

Myth 3: Surgery or radiation is the only treatment option 

Another Prostate Cancer myth is that every form of it needs surgery or chemo. In fact, it is only one of the options from the several treatments available. Some tumors may be aggressive and others might progress slowly, that too, over the years. If the cancer has grown over several stages and has spread to many parts then there are options for immediate surgery and radiation. The risks can be determined basis family genes, age, ethnicity etc. Men with lower risk can also be monitored with Active Surveillance. This means getting frequent PSA level tests, biopsies or DREs.

There is not much data available on minimally invasive treatments except for keeping constant vigil. This includes future MRIs or biopsies if something is detected early. Other treatments include Partial Gland Ablation where the tumor related to one area is subject to extreme heat or cold. Cryotherapy is used to kill harmful cells and this procedure can be done within 45 minutes. It may not have as many side effects and a person undergoing this treatment can resume normal activities shortly. Another method is to use Ultrasound waves which is also a non-surgical way of inducing extreme heat to kill specific cancer-causing tissues. Hence, radiotherapy/surgery may only be confined to an organ that needs treatment and maybe more invasive than other available treatments.

Myth 4: Prostate Cancer is always curable or self-treatable 

As discussed earlier, when Prostate Cancer is in its early stages or is benign then it may not really need treatment. It can grow slowly or even aggressively to spread to many parts. You or your medical practitioner may not start treating the condition straight away. This could be due to age, individual risks or complications from other conditions you have. Treatment may not prolong your life or cure Prostate Cancer and can even produce side effects that maybe undesirable.

A person who is in the lower risk zone may only require Active Surveillance. Prostate Cancer is not self-treatable and with any visible symptoms, it is better to opt for screening immediately. Also, if diagnosed early where the cancer is only restricted to the prostate area; the chances of cure are higher. If the cancer has spread beyond the prostate then it may be difficult to cure. There are various options and prognosis available for treating Prostate Cancer. There are precision medicines like immunotherapy that can cure better than treating excessively that cause side effects. Consult a specialist for reliable information and support.

Myth 5: If no one in your family has Prostate Cancer you won’t have it  

While Prostate Cancer is more prevalent hereditarily, the corollary is also true. If a man has a father or brother who has been detected with Prostate Cancer then there is a chance he falls in the high-risk category. If a younger family member has been detected then it increases more. Also, if three or more members have been affected then the risk runs even higher. Although family history can raise the odds – other factors like age, ethnicity, unhealthy habits like smoking, obesity can also considerably increase the risk.

When there are gene changes in the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes then the risk of Prostate Cancer in men and ovarian cancer in women is prevalent.

Myth 6: Having a higher PSA score means you have Prostate Cancer

Relationship between PSA score and Prostate CancerPSA or Prostate Specific Antigen is responsible for measuring the specific cells in the prostate and not to determine cancer levels. There may be several reasons for an increased level of PSA:

  • As age increases, older men tend to have higher levels of PSA
  • PSA levels can alter and change due to lifestyle, obesity, inflammation in the prostate or due to some treatments
  • If you get a score lower than 4ng/ml it does not mean that you may not develop Prostate Cancer – other tests need to be done in combination

Higher PSA levels are not seen in all men diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and lower PSA levels can be deceptive at times. In fact, men who are obese need biopsies that consider a lower PSA score. Another condition known as BPH which is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia causes inflammation in the prostate glands and can increase the PSA levels significantly. The PSA is the best test for early stage detection especially for men under 40 years. Your doctor may not immediately start any treatment on seeing higher levels. Several tests and biopsies need to be done and scores have to be observed over a period of time.

Myth 7: Prostate Cancer is always a slow growing cancer

There are many types and stages of Prostate Cancer. Some may be detected as benign or slow-growth cancers and some might be extremely aggressive. The first trigger is PSA tests accompanied by Grade Tests and Gleason Scores. Several biopsies and tests will determine the nature of the Prostate Gland. Sometimes it may just be an inflammation and enlargement. There are 4 stages of progression of the cancer. If the cancer spreads beyond the prostate to other parts of the body then your doctor may advise immediate treatment.

Although the exact role of improving your diet to combat Prostate Cancer isn’t clearly defined; there are some foods that can lower your risks. High fat and High Sugar foods need to be cut down. Some studies show that methanol extract from a banana peel can suppress prostate gland enlargement and moderate the testosterone levels. Plant based foods such as soy, fruits, vegetables like potatoes, carrots are highly beneficial in reducing the growth of Prostate Cancer cells. Tomatoes are also high in Lycopene and act as antioxidants, protecting prostate health. Exercising every day for 30 minutes, being active and exposure to the sun is beneficial. Vitamin D intake is also beneficial in reducing Prostate Cancer risk. Prostate massage therapy has also proven to act well in clearing prostatic duct or any excess fluid. Thereby, relieving any symptoms or discomfort. Consult your doctor before changing your diet or getting any therapy congruent to your health needs.