7 misconceptions about prostate cancer every man should know

September 30, 2015 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Prostate cancer is one of the most common, yet least talked about, forms of cancer in men. In fact, about 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. There are several myths associated with prostate cancer that all men should know.

Myth #1: Prostate cancer is an old man’s disease.

While it may be true that the older you are, the more likely you are to be diagnosed with prostate cancer (65 percent of cases are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older), the fact remains that 35 percent of those diagnosed are at a younger age. This includes up to 1 in 38 men ages 40-59, and 1 in 15 men ages 60-69.

Myth #2: My dad had prostate cancer, so I will too.

“If a patient has a family history of prostate cancer, the chances of a prostate cancer diagnosis are greater than someone who doesn’t have this history,” says Andy Su, M.D., radiation oncologist at Elmhurst Hospital. “However, not everyone who has a family history of the disease will get it themselves and not everyone who gets the disease has a family history of it," he adds. If prostate cancer runs in your family, talk with your doctor and get screened for prostate cancer.

Myth #3: No symptoms means no cancer.

Prostate cancer can cause various urinary symptoms, including urgency and a diminished stream, as well as pain in the back. However, symptoms typically don't appear until the cancer has reached an advanced stage — at which point effective treatment may be difficult. You shouldn't assume that the absence of symptoms means no cancer.

Myth #4: A high PSA score always means prostate cancer.

Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. For this test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. PSA level is often elevated in men with prostate cancer. However, other conditions, including non-cancerous prostate enlargement, can cause a higher PSA, so a biopsy is the only way to know for sure.

Myth #5: Vasectomies cause prostate cancer.

Vasectomy has not been linked to increasing a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer but has led to the prostate being checked by the urologist more often. This myth developed because many prostate cancers were often first reported in men who had vasectomies simply because they were being screened for prostate complications. Screening is essential to early diagnosis.

Myth #6: Treatment for prostate cancer always causes impotence or incontinence.

“While erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence are possibilities following surgery or radiation therapy for prostate cancer, it is not true that all men experience these complications,” said Alexander Hantel, M.D., director of medical oncology at Edward Cancer Center. “We now offer numerous therapies and aids can improve erectile function and limit incontinence following treatment.”

Myth #7:  All prostate cancers must be treated.

You and your doctor may decide not to treat your prostate cancer for various reasons, including the progression of the disease, your age and current health status. However, you should see your doctor more frequently to monitor the cancer, and your doctor may order tests to make sure the cancer does not grow or spread. If your situation changes, you may decide to start treatment.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Schedule your prostate cancer screening today. Find a Healthy Driven doctor.

Learn about cancer services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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