Myth 1 – Prostate cancer is common, but few men actually die from it.
In fact, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men over the age of 60 each year.
Myth 2 – Prostate cancer is only found in elderly men.
While it is true that prostate cancer is more common with increasing age, it can be found in men of all ages. Prostate cancer is increasingly being diagnosed in men between the ages of 40 and 50, in some cases even in there 30’s (thirties).
Myth 3 – If you don’t have any symptoms, then you don’t have prostate cancer.
Today, because of the widespread use of the PSA test for prostate cancer screening, most men are actually diagnosed with prostate cancer before they have had any symptoms. Urinary symptoms like hesitancy, frequency, or dribbling are important and could mean a problem with your prostate. However, not having these symptoms does not rule out prostate cancer.
Myth 4 – A high PSA level means that you have prostate cancer.
An elevated PSA (prostate specific antigen) level can be due to many causes. Prostate cancer is one of these, but it is not the most common cause. Other conditions such as BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) or prostatitis (inflammation or infection of the prostate) are relatively common and can cause an elevated PSA. Even simple things like riding a bicycle can elevate the PSA.
Myth 5 – If your PSA is low, then you do not have prostate cancer.
A low PSA does not rule out the presence of prostate cancer. While most men with prostate cancer will have elevated PSA levels, many men each year will be diagnosed with prostate cancer who have low or normal PSA levels. The PSA test is not perfect, but it is still the best screening test available for prostate cancer. A prostate biopsy is the only way to definitively diagnose prostate cancer.
Myth 6 – If your PSA is low, then you do not need a DRE (digital rectal examination).
As described in Myth 5, a low PSA does not rule out prostate cancer. The DRE is the only way for your doctor to physically examine the prostate and is an important test to be coupled with the PSA test. Finding a nodule or irregularity of the prostate gland during a DRE is often the first step toward catching a prostate cancer in its early stages.
Myth 7 – Prostate cancer rates in South Africa are climbing quickly.
Prostate cancer rates have remained basically steady over the past few years.
Myth 8 – Vasectomies cause prostate cancer.
Numerous studies have shown no increased risk of prostate cancer in men who have undergone vasectomy.
Myth 9: Impotence Always Follows Treatment
Unlike the other myths, there may actually be a bit of truth behind this one. Half of all men who receive treatment for prostate cancer will experience some impotence (or problems with potency), albeit temporarily. However, some men have few or no problems.
Specifically, treatment for prostate cancer may cause erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men because of the effects of surgery or radiation on the nerves and blood vessels that control erections. In addition, hormone shots can cause impotence by drastically lowering your sex drive. But if your doctor performs the nerve-sparing prostatectomy, or you have radiation therapy, you have good odds of retaining or getting your potency back in a year (or sooner).
Myth 10: A prostate biopsy exam will render a man impotent.
Some swelling and inflammation alongside the prostate gland will occur after a biopsy exam, but not significant enough to impact erections. It is normal that blood will be noticed in semen for approximately eight weeks after a biopsy, but should not interfere with sexual function.
Myth 11: I can give my wife prostate cancer when we have sex.
Prostate cancer is not contagious. The cancer cannot be spread through sexual relations or living in close quarters with someone diagnosed with prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is an internal problem of the gland.
Myth 12: – You can pass your cancer to others.
Prostate cancer is not infectious or communicable. This means that there is no way for you to “pass it on” to someone else.
Myth 13: Surgery or radiation is always best
Understandably, most surgeons favor the prostatectomy as the best option for many cases of prostate cancer. Radiation oncologists often lean toward recommending radiation treatments for many men with prostate cancer. To determine which treatment is best, each individual situation needs to be considered, including the man’s age, how advanced his cancer is, his attitude about side effects and quality of life issues, and other factors. For example, if a man is 70 years old and has diabetes, surgery may be a poor choice, because his life expectancy is less than 10 years. Conversely, if a man is 55 and otherwise healthy, and his cancer is localized (or confined to the prostate), a prostatectomy may be the best answer. Patients need to consider the choices they’re offered and analyze what’s best for them.
Myth 14: You’ll become permanently disabled
Many men continue to work normally after being treated for prostate cancer, while some take four to six weeks off (or longer) to recover from surgery or other treatments.
Myth 15: Your partner will dump you
Some individuals think that if you have prostate cancer, your partner will get frustrated and walk out on you. However, studies have shown that in most of these cases, the relationship was in trouble before the cancer was even diagnosed. The illness may have provided a little push over the edge for a relationship that was already hovering on the cliff of serious problems.