February 19, 2016
Myth Busters: Five Myths about Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men, with over 230,000 men diagnosed in the United States every year. Although it is common, it is still one of the least well-known cancers and there are several myths circulating about symptoms, treatment and life after treatment.
1. Prostate cancer is for old men.
While the percentage of diagnosed men is significantly higher after the age of 65, more than 76,000 men are diagnosed at an earlier age, particularly between the ages of 40 to 59. Although 1 in 10,000 men under the age of 40 are diagnosed, the number increases significantly to 1 in 38 for ages 40 to 59 and 1 in 15 for ages 60 to 69.
Risk factors should always be considered when understanding your likelihood for developing prostate cancer. Race, genetics, physical health and lifestyle are all factors that can increase chances.
2. A high PSA level = prostate cancer. A low PSA level = no prostate cancer.
This is not entirely true. While prostate cancer is a common cause of elevated PSA levels, men can also have prostate cancer with low PSA levels. High PSA levels could also be the cause of other noncancerous health-related conditions such as a urinary tract infection, medical procedures, enlargement of the prostate gland and more. “Normal” PSA depends on your age, but even if you find your PSA level between 1 and 10, there is only a 25 percent chance of prostate cancer.
3. All prostate cancer can be treated the same.
A real difficulty with prostate cancer is that many doctors treat all prostate cancers as if they are the same. One man’s cancer may be in an area of slow-growing cancer in only five percent of the prostate. Another man may have cancer that involves the majority of his prostate, with a high Gleason score and poor genetic profile, a faster growing type of cancer requiring more aggressive treatment. HIFU, for instance, is ideal for a patient who desires a high-quality of life post-surgery and a quick recovery.
4. Prostate cancer treatment always causes impotence or incontinence.
Erectile dysfunction may occur in more than 50 percent of patients and urinary leakage may occur in more than 20 percent of men. However, HIFU technology is a minimally invasive treatment that targets specific tissue in the prostate, eliminating harm to other critical structures such as the bladder, rectum, external urinary sphincter and neurovascular bundle.
5. Men have to show symptoms in order to have prostate cancer.
Not all men experience symptoms when they have prostate cancer and often these symptoms can be mistaken for something else. That is why a routine check-up by a doctor is critical. Common symptoms of prostate cancer include:
• Frequent urination
• Difficulty controlling urination
• Weak or interrupted flow of urination
• Burning sensation while urinating
• Difficulty having an erection
• Painful ejaculation
• Blood in the urine or semen
• Frequent pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs