Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men, especially after the age of 50. Some of the symptoms that may be associated with this cancer include difficulty urinating, constant full bladder sensation or inability to maintain an erection, for example.
However, many cases of cancer may not present specific symptoms, so it is recommended that after the age 50 men talk to an urologist to weigh the advantages and harms of doing a rectal examination and the PSA blood test, because in both the UK and US there is no screening program.
Although it is a relatively common and easily treatable cancer, especially when identified early, prostate cancer still generates several types of myths that make screening difficult. This can decrease the chances of being identified early and consequently reduces the cure rate.
So, to clarify the main doubts, below we explain the 10 main myths about this type of cancer:
1. It only happens in the elderly.
MYTH. Prostate cancer is more common in the elderly, with a higher incidence from the age of 50, however, cancer does not choose ages and, therefore, can appear even in young people. Therefore, it is important to always be alert for signs or symptoms that may indicate prostate problems, seeing an urologist whenever this happens. See the symptoms to look out for.
Although prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of death in men, in the US it is decided that the choice to undergo periodic prostate-specific antigen (PSA)–based screening in men aged 55 to 69, is up to them, because of the potential benefits and harms. In the UK there is currently no screening program for prostate cancer, because it has not been proved that the benefits would outweigh the risks.
2. Having high PSA means having cancer.
MYTH. Increased PSA values above 4 ng / ml does not always mean that cancer is developing. This is because any inflammation in your prostate can cause an increase in the production of this enzyme, including problems much simpler than cancer, such as prostatitis or benign hypertrophy, for example. In these cases, although treatment is required, it is quite different from cancer treatment, requiring the correct guidance of an urologist.
3. A Rectal examination is not always necessary.
MYTH. Rectal examination can be quite uncomfortable and so many men prefer to do the PSA test as the only form of cancer screening. However, there are several reported cases of cancer in which there was no change in PSA levels in the blood, remaining the same as in a completely healthy and cancer-free man, with values being below 4 ng / ml. So, digital rectal examination can help the doctor identify any prostate changes, even if the PSA values are in the parameters
Ideally, at least two tests should always be done together to try to identify cancer, the simplest and most economical being the rectal examination and the PSA test.
4. Having enlarged prostate is the same as cancer.
MYTH. Prostate enlargement may in fact be a sign of cancer developing in the gland, however, prostate enlargement may also arise in other more common prostate problems, especially in cases of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as prostatic hypertrophy, is also very common in men over the age of 50, but it is a benign condition that may neither cause any symptoms or changes in daily life. Although many men who have prostatic hypertrophy may also have cancer-like symptoms, such as difficulty passing urine or a constant full bladder sensation.
In these situations, it is always best to see an urologist to correctly identify the cause of the enlarged prostate and initiate appropriate treatment.
5. Family history of cancer does not increase your risk of developing this type of cancer.
MYTH. Having a family history of cancer increases the risk of having any type of cancer. However, according to several studies, having a first-rate relative, such as a parent or sibling, with a history of prostate cancer increases the odds of developing the same type of cancer up to two times.
For this reason, men who have a direct history of prostate cancer in the family should see an urologist around the age of 45 so that he can decide whether to be screened or not.
6. Ejaculating often decreases the risk of cancer.
NOT CONFIRMED. Although there are some studies indicating that having more than 21 ejaculations each month may reduce the risk of developing cancer and other prostate problems, this information is not yet unanimous throughout the scientific community, as there are also studies that have not reached any conclusion between the number of ejaculations and the development of cancer.
7. Pumpkin seeds do not reduce the risk of cancer.
MYTH. Pumpkin seeds are very rich in carotenoids, which are potent antioxidant substances that can prevent many cancers, including prostate cancer. In addition to pumpkin seeds, tomatoes have also been studied as an important food for prostate cancer prevention due to their rich composition in lycopene, a type of carotenoid.
In addition to these two foods, following a healthy also greatly reduces the risk of cancer. Therefore it is recommended you restrict the amount of red meat in your diet, increase vegetable intake and limit the amount of salt or alcohol ingested. See more about what to eat to prevent prostate cancer.
8. Having a vasectomy increases the risk of cancer.
MYTH. After extensive research and epidemiological studies, the relationship between vasectomy surgery and cancer development has not been established. So, a vasectomy is considered safe and there is no reason for it to be considered a factor that increases the risk of prostate cancer.
9. There is no cure for Prostate cancer.
MYTH. Although not all cases of prostate cancer can be cured, the truth is that this is a type of cancer that has a high cure rate, especially when it is identified at its earliest stage and is affecting the prostate only.
Treatment is usually done with surgery to remove the prostate and completely eliminate the cancer. However, depending on the age of the man and the state of the disease, the urologist may indicate other types of treatment, such as the use of medication and even chemotherapy and radiotherapy. See all treatment options used for prostate cancer.
10. Prostate cancer treatment always causes impotence.
MYTH. Treating any type of cancer is always accompanied by several side effects, especially when more aggressive techniques such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy are used. In cases of prostate cancer, the main type of treatment used is surgery, which, although considered relatively safer, can also be accompanied by complications, including erectile problems.
However, this is more common in more advanced cases of cancer, when surgery is major and a greatly enlarged prostate must be removed, which raises the risk of striking important nerves related to maintaining an erection.