Prostate cancer (also called prostate carcinoma) develops in the prostate gland, located below the urinary bladder. The cells multiply in an uncontrolled manner in the prostate gland and accumulate to form a tumour. There are few misconceptions surrounding prostate cancer about who is at risk, how to be tested, and when to have treatment, leading to a great deal of confusion. Let us reveal the truth behind the common prostate cancer myths.
Myth 1: Prostate cancer only occurs in old age
Prostate cancer is typically considered to be just an old man’s disease. It is true that advancing age may pose a risk of developing prostate tumour. But, it does not imply that younger men are not vulnerable to the risk.
A study published in “Current Urology” illustrated the case of a young man (28 years of age) who presented with lower urinary tract symptoms and was later diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Apart from age, other risk factors (such as a strong family history of prostate cancer, physical health, lifestyle) may also play a role in the early onset of prostate cancer.
Myth 2: Prostate cancer will always present with symptoms
This isn’t true. In the early stages, prostate carcinoma does not exhibit any visible symptoms. Cancer of the prostate is detected usually during routine health check-ups and not from the symptoms alone.
Some of the distressing symptoms, if present, include an urge to urinate frequently, blood in the urine, difficult and painful urination, pain in the pelvis, back, or hips, weak flow during urination, and a feeling that the bladder hasn’t completely. You can also read Avelumab as maintenance therapy to treat bladder cancer.
Myth 3: You don’t have to be concerned about prostate carcinoma if you don’t have a family history of it
A small percentage of prostate carcinoma patients have a family history of it, while in some cases, prostate cancer occurs in males without a family history of this debilitating disease. Inherited abnormal changes of the genes (BRCA1 or BRCA2) associated with an elevated risk of ovarian and breast cancers in some families can also escalate prostate tumour risk in males.
In males with no family history, other risk factors like age, obesity, cigarette smoking, and unhealthy eating habits may contribute to the risk of getting cancer of the prostate.
Myth 4: Greater ejaculation frequency triggers the risk of prostate cancer
A common rumour surrounding prostate cancer is that increased ejaculation activity may raise the odds of developing prostate cancer. This is not true. Few shreds of evidence have indicated that the risk of prostate carcinoma declines in individuals with a more significant number of ejaculations per month.
In a study by G.G. Giles et al., the ejaculatory frequency, especially in early adult life, was found to be inversely linked with prostate cancer risk. In another prospective cohort study by Jennifer R. Rider et al., men with greater ejaculatory frequency in adulthood were less likely to be subsequently diagnosed with prostate carcinoma vs men with minimized ejaculatory frequency.
Myth 5: Every person with a higher PSA level has prostate cancer
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein secreted from the prostate gland, aids in semen liquefaction to enhance sperm motility. PSA is a prostate-specific antigen and not a prostate cancer-specific antigen since not every individual with elevated PSA beyond the normal range (more than 4 ng/ml) has prostate carcinoma.
At times, PSA levels can be deceptive. It is crucial to note that:
- PSA levels may fluctuate due to numerous other factors like urinary tract infection, inflammation or infection in the prostate, enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), surgical procedures, prostate injury, certain medications, and other lifestyle factors.
- Older males usually have raised PSA levels even without prostate carcinoma.
- If a male has a PSA level below 4 ng/mL, it does not indicate that he will not get a prostate tumour.
- Not every patient diagnosed with prostate cancer has elevated levels of PSA. Some forms of prostate carcinoma can present without a rise in PSA level.
Increased levels of PSA (a valuable marker for prostate cancer) may offer a clue about the possible presence of prostate cancer. If you have an elevated PSA level, further tests will aid to obtain a clearer picture. Consulting a urologist is necessary for interpreting PSA values in the clinical context. They will watch your PSA score over time. If it’s on the rise, that could be a sign of trouble!
Myth 6: All prostate carcinoma requires immediate treatment
In numerous cases, prostate carcinoma is slow-growing cancer that may not produce any significant trouble. For some patients, immediate treatment is not required.
Instead, a clinician sometimes recommends active surveillance in which they carefully monitor cancer with regular follow-up, repeated biopsies, rectal exams, blood tests, physical examinations, and imaging tests to make sure that the cancer isn’t progressing and worsening.
Watchful waiting is another approach to doing nothing unless symptoms appear. Treatment is only given if cancer begins to advance or shows signs of getting more aggressive.
All men need to be attentive to the symptoms of prostate cancer. With any prominent symptoms, it is better to undergo screening promptly. If diagnosed in the early stage when the tumour is only limited to the prostate area, the chances of cure are more with minimal medical intervention. If cancer has spread severely beyond the prostate, then it may be challenging to manage.
If you are concerned about prostate cancer but don't have any symptoms, you can find out more about your risk of developing the disease. PSA tests, digital rectal exams, and prostate biopsies can help diagnose prostate cancer even if you don't have any symptoms. Seek advice from a healthcare provider if you are concerned.
Advances in screening, diagnosis, and treatment options have enhanced the survival of prostate carcinoma patients. So, schedule a consultation with a professional medical expert.