As the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, prostate cancer gets a lot of attention in the news and online. So much information is thrown around that it can often be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Unfortunately, many untruths have become popularized in the discussion regarding prostate cancer. We’ve gathered the five most common myths and debunked them so you aren’t in the dark when it comes to your health.
1. Only old men get prostate cancer. Many victims of prostate cancer develop the disease later in life, but it is quite possible for young men to be affected, as well. It’s dangerous to assume that you’re immune to the disease simply because of your young age.
2. No one in my family has it, so I’m not at risk. Prostate cancer does not have to be hereditary. It can occur in individuals with no family history of the disease. So even if your father or brother have never been diagnosed, you still may be at risk.
3. I don’t have symptoms so I don’t need a screening. Screenings are bad for you anyways. Early prostate cancer has no symptoms, which means screening is the only effective way to detect whether you have the disease. Although the treatment of prostate cancer can carry some risks, a PSA involves a simple, safe, and non-invasive blood test. Men should ask their doctor about testing at the age of 40.
4. A high PSA test means I have prostate cancer and a low level means I don’t. This is not necessarily true. A PSA test measures the blood level of prostate-specific antigen or protein produced by the prostate gland. Certain non-cancerous factors can cause those levels to rise, so a high number doesn’t always mean you have prostate cancer. Unfortunately, a normal or low PSA does not necessarily rule out prostate cancer. A digital rectal exam is advised in addition to a PSA test.
5. Prostate cancer will ruin my sex life and lead to urinary incontinence. Treatment for prostate cancer doesn’t necessarily lead to erectile dysfunction or urinary incontinence. Most men recover bladder functions within less than a year and a minority suffer major consequences in regards to their sex lives. If this does happen to you, see your doctor about the many different treatment methods.
Before you can deal with prostate cancer and its effects, it’s important to know the facts. Talk to your primary care physician about a screening plan that suits your individual needs. Until then, do your best to stick to a balanced diet and exercise routine. Studies show that maintaining a healthy lifestyle may be fundamental in decreasing the risk of developing prostate cancer.