One in nine men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. With statistics like this, prostate cancer has reached near epidemic proportions. A more encouraging statistic is that, if it is detected early, when it’s still within the prostate gland, prostate cancer has cure rates above 90 percent.
Like with all chronic diseases, the first step to battling prostate cancer is to be able to separate myth from fact. Although it is common, prostate cancer is still one of misunderstood, and you can be sure that the internet, your friends, co-workers and family all have an opinion of what prostate cancer is and how to treat it. Don’t let myth cloud your perception. Here are five common myths about prostate cancer and the truth that can set you free.
1. Myth: Only elderly men get prostate cancer.
While a large percent of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer happen to be 65 or older, the truth is, if you have a prostate, it can get cancer.
2. Myth: Prostate cancer does not grow rapidly.
Prostate cancer might not spread as quickly as extremely aggressive cancers like melanoma or pancreatic cancer, but it does spread, it’s just that the rate by which it spreads varies from person to person. To be sure, prostate cancer is unpredictable, but know this: like all cancers, prostate cancer does not stand still. If prostate cancer is detected, don’t assume it will grow slowly (or not at all). Depending on the rate of growth, your doctor will recommend the right course of action to treat your cancer. No one should take any cancer for granted.
3. Myth: Having high prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels always indicates prostate cancer.
This is not necessarily true. Your doctor will monitor your PSA score over time. If it’s on the rise, that could be a sign of a problem. An inflamed prostate can drive up your numbers, and the score helps your doctor decide if you need more tests to check for prostate cancer. Other conditions such as an enlarged prostate can also cause your PSA levels rise, so a biopsy is the only way to know for sure if you have an accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer.
4. Myth: All cases of prostate cancer will require treatment.
Only the more aggressive cases of prostate cancer will require immediate treatment. In many diagnosed cases, if the cancer is found to be slow growing, your doctor may conduct treatment that is called Active Surveillance, which means the doctor will monitor the cancer over a period of time and will only intervene if the cancer worsens.
5. Myth: Having treatment will diminish one’s sexual activity.
The nerves that encompass the prostate and control what allows a man to have an erection may be adversely affected during some prostate cancer treatments or surgeries. However, a man’s age, course of treatment, family history, and other factors will determine how quickly one will regain full erectile function. Most instances of post-treatment erectile dysfunction (ED) can be treated by your urologist. Medications such as Viagra or Cialis may be prescribed by your doctor as part of your treatment to help.
For men who are over the age of 40, it is recommended that a blood test is done to examine your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. PSA levels of 4.0 ng/mL and lower are considered as normal. If a man has a PSA level above 4.0 ng/mL, doctors often recommend a prostate biopsy to determine whether prostate cancer is present before it has a chance to develop further and possibly spread to other areas of the body. Early detection saves lives.
To learn the truth about prostate cancer, or have any further questions or concerns, call Dr. Desi Avila at Ironwood Urology at (480) 961-2323 to request an appointment, or request an appointment online.