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Myths and Facts About Prostate Cancer

Asian Institute of Nephrology and Urology | April 22, 2024

The Impact of Age on Prostate Gland Enlargement

Prostate cancer is a pressing healthcare concern worldwide. In fact, it is the second-leading cause of cancer in men globally. Prostate cancer develops when cells in the prostate gland grow out of control.

When we specifically talk about the Indian scenario, prostate cancer is one of the top ten leading cancers in India. It usually affects men in the age group of 65 and older. However, recently, we have seen a surge in reports of prostate cancer being detected in younger men in the age groups of 4th and 5h decades residing in metropolitan cities.

But the irony is that, despite its prevalence, there is considerable confusion, misinformation, and taboo surrounding prostate cancer. Thus, the mushrooming of prostate cancer myths has become a major problem. It is time to shatter misconceptions by debunking the top myths and addressing the top facts about prostate cancer.

What is prostate cancer?

Cancer is the uncontrollable growth of human cells. Cells in any part of the body can become cancerous and spread to other areas. Thus, prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland start growing uncontrollably. The prostate gland is found only in males and is responsible for making some of the fluid that is part of semen. It is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

Top prostate cancer facts and myths

Myth 1: Only Older Men Get Prostate Cancer

Fact: Prostate cancer risk factors include age, physical health, family history, race, and lifestyle.

It is generally true that the older a man is, the more likely he is to develop prostate cancer. Currently, the median age for prostate cancer death is 80 years. However, in recent times, prostate cancer has been diagnosed even among men in their 40s. In addition, people with a strong family history of prostate cancer, especially first-degree relatives, are at a higher risk of developing the disease at a younger age.

Myth 2: Prostate cancer is always associated with symptoms.

Fact: The majority of men with prostate cancer do not have symptoms, and these symptoms are often attributed to other conditions.

Men with early-stage prostate cancer often do not experience any symptoms. And, when symptoms do show up, they are a sign of late-stage prostate cancer. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Difficulty starting or stopping the flow of urine
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • frequent and urgent need to urinate, especially at night

But it is essential to note that some of these symptoms may be a manifestation of other health conditions. So, it is best to keep self-diagnosing at bay. If you experience any one of the symptoms, visit your healthcare provider and consider a screening.

Myth 3: Prostate cancer is a stealthy and slow-growing cancer.

Fact: The low-grade variant of the cancer takes a long time to even progress and become noticeable for active surveillance. However, this is not true for all cases of prostate cancer. High-grade disease and some other variants of prostate cancer can be very aggressive and require the immediate involvement of a skilled urologist. It is only after a biopsy that the urologist can treat the cancer based on the stage and aggressiveness.

Myth 4: Screening tests for prostate cancer are not helpful.

Fact: One of the major prostate cancer facts is that screening tests are important but require vigilance. Early-stage prostate cancer screening is rare, so discuss risk factors with your doctor. The risk factors usually include old age, family history, geography, and ethnicity.

Medical groups prescribe prostate cancer screening differently. But the ideal trajectory is to talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks and then make an informed decision. The screen helps the doctor detect prostate cancer even before the symptoms show up, this enables urologists to provide curative treatment.

The two most common prostate cancer screening tests include:

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test
  • Digital rectal exam (DRE)

Myth 5: All prostate cancers are deadly.

Truth: A very pertinent prostate cancer fact is that the disease is not always fatal. Undoubtedly, prostate cancer is a very serious condition. However, most men diagnosed with the condition do not die from it. In fact, the 5-year survival rate of prostate cancer is 98.6 percent if treated well in time, which is quite a hopeful number. Identifying cancer at an early stage is an important part of improving survival rates.

Myth 6: Cancers do not run in my family, so I am safe.

Truth: Few cancers can run in families , and Prostate cancer is one of them. Family history increases the odds of being diagnosed with prostate cancer to 1 in 3, but a lot of men will still be diagnosed with cancer without any hereditary linkages. Family history does play a part in increasing the risk of prostate cancer. For instance, a man whose father or brother had prostate cancer is twice as likely to develop the condition.

Myth 7: Prostate cancer surgery eventually causes permanent urine leakage.

Fact: With advancements in technology, urologists are able to perform few surgical strategies to prevent or decrease the severity of urine leak problems. Very few patients need to use pads for urine leak after 3 months from surgical removal of the prostate.

Wrapping It Up

So, there it was: a thorough debunking of the top six prostate cancer myths. Because of years of intensive research, we know a lot of interesting facts about prostate cancer. However, the hesitation to talk about the disease prevents people from knowing the truth and consequently receiving timely diagnosis and treatment.