Prostate cancer, apart from skin cancer, is the most prevalent form of cancer observed in males. Prostate cancer can grow slowly, causing other fatal illnesses which could be a reason for a fatality before prostate cancer. Many prostate cancers, however, are more aggressive and can spread outside the prostate gland’s limits, which can be life-threatening. With early identification and personalized therapy, the survival rate of prostate cancer is significantly enhanced.
However, prostate cancer is the least talked about cancers, owing to the intimate nature of the site. This is one of the major reasons for misconceptions and confusions. Let’s look at some of those myths and misunderstandings about prostate cancer, which is the second major cause of cancer death among males.
Myth #1 – Prostate cancer only occurs in elderly men
Fact – It is highly uncommon for males under 40 years of age to get prostate cancer. If you are concerned, it would be best to get tested sooner. However, age is not the only factor. You might be two or three times more probable to get it if your dad or brother or someone related had it. It is more likely for African-American men to get it than anyone else. Scientists are yet unable to determine why this is the case.
Myth #2 – High PSA levels equal to prostate cancer
Fact – It is not necessary that high PSA levels indicate prostate cancer. A high PSA level could also indicate an inflamed prostate.
The PSA exam is the first step in cancer diagnosis. PSA has made it possible in its early phases to detect cancer when it is best handled. Prostate PSA is generated in reaction to a number of prostate-related issues, including inflammation or infection (prostatitis), prostate gland enlargement (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia – BPH) or, potentially, prostate gland enlargement.
The score enables your doctor to decide whether you need more prostate cancer testing. He will also watch over time your PSA score. If it’s on the increase, it might be a sign of an issue. However, there is a probability of the PSA level going down or showing any significant change after undergoing prostate cancer treatment.
Myth #3 – No symptoms, no cancer
Fact – Prostate cancer is one of oncology’s most asymptomatic cancers, meaning that not all males experience symptoms and can be confused or linked to something else many times.
Often, a doctor will first detect signs of prostate cancer during a routine check-up. Common symptoms include: need to urinate frequently, difficulty starting or stopping urination, weak or interrupted urination flow, painful or burning urination, difficulty in having an erection, painful ejaculation, urinary or semen blood, or frequent lower back pain and stiffness, pain in the hips or upper thighs. Urinary symptoms do not necessarily imply cancer of the prostate. Be sure to tell your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Myth #4 – Prostate cancer surgery ends sex life and causes urinary incontinence
Fact – The uro-oncologist or the prostate cancer surgeon can perform a nerve-sparing surgery. He can spare the nerve which is responsible to trigger erections. That implies you should again be able to have a firm enough erection for sex. But maybe it will take a while. It can take 4 to 24 months, possibly longer, to recover. Usually, younger males heal quicker. Other prostate cancer treatments, such as radiation and hormone therapy, may also influence your sex life. Talk about your decisions to your doctor. After surgery, you may leak urine, but it is generally short-term. Approximately 95% of males have as much bladder control as they had before the procedure within a year.
Myth #5 – Prostate cancer treatment needs to begin immediately
Fact – Prostate cancer treatment could be delayed depending upon your case and the discretion of the surgeon. Cases in which prostate cancer treatment could be delayed are:
- The cancer is detected at a very early stage, and is very slow growing or is dormant
- You are an elderly person or you have other diseases. Treatment for prostate cancer may not prolong your life and may make it more difficult to take care of your other health issues.
Your doctor will probably suggest “active surveillance” in such instances, which implies he will inspect you frequently and order tests to see if your cancer gets worse. Your doctor may decide to begin therapy if your condition changes. However, it is highly recommended to evaluate all the pros and cons; and to even seek a second opinion if necessary.
Myth #6 – Laser prostate cancer treatment does more harm than good
Fact – Laser prostate cancer is a revolutionary way to treat prostate cancer. It has shown much more beneficial outcome in complicated cases. This is an extremely sophisticated procedure that guarantees fewer complications after surgery and quicker healing, along with an increase in the quality of life.
The key to better results and prospective cure for prostate cancer is early detection and awareness. It is recommended that men 50 years of age with no family history of prostate cancer and men above the age of 40 years with a family history of cancer assess their personal risk every year.
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