Prostate cancer also known as testicular cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, but what do you know about it? Let’s debunk 5 common myths about the disease.
Myth 1: Prostate cancer surgery will end your sex life and cause urine leakage.
Fact: Your surgeon may be able to spare the nerves that help trigger erections. Then you will probably be able to have an erection strong enough for sex again. But it may be a while. Recovery can take from 4 to 24 months, maybe longer. Younger men usually recover sooner.
If you still have trouble, ask your doctor about treatments for erectile dysfunction. Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra are common medications that can help. Your doctor will tell you if these are right for you.
Other prostate cancer treatments, such as radiation and hormone therapy, also can affect your sex life. Talk to your doctor about your choices.
Urine leakage may occur after surgery, but it’s usually temporary. Within a year, about 95% of men have as much bladder control as they did before surgery.
Myth 2: Only elderly men are at risk of prostate cancer.
Fact: Prostate cancer is rare for men under 40. If you are concerned, ask your doctor if you need to get tested earlier. Age isn’t the only factor. Others include:
Family history. If your father or brother had prostate cancer, your own risk doubles or triples. The more relatives you have with the disease, the greater your chances of getting it.
Race. If you are African-American, your risk of prostate cancer is higher than men of other races. Scientists do not yet know why.
You may want to discuss your risks with your doctor so you can decide together when you should be tested for prostate cancer.
Myth 3: All prostate cancers must be treated.
Fact: You and your doctor may decide not to treat your prostate cancer. Reasons include:
Your cancer is at an early stage and is growing very slowly.
You are elderly or have other illnesses. Treatment for prostate cancer may not prolong your life and may complicate care for other health problems.
In such cases, your doctor will likely suggest “active surveillance.” This means that your doctor will regularly check you and order tests to make sure your cancer does not worsen. If your situation changes, you may decide to start treatment.
Myth 4: A high PSA score means you have prostate cancer.
Fact: Not necessarily. Your PSA could be high due to an enlarged prostate or inflammation in your prostate. The PSA score helps the doctor decide if you need more tests to check for prostate cancer. Also, your doctor is interested in your PSA score over time. Is it increasing, which could be a sign of a problem? Or, did it decrease after cancer treatment, which is great.
Myth 5: If you get prostate cancer, you will die of the disease.
Fact: You’re likely live to an old age or die of some other cause. That doesn’t mean checking for prostate cancer is not important. Finding out early and working with your doctor on a treatment plan are key.
American Cancer Society: “What Are the Key Statistics About Prostate Cancer?”
American Cancer Society: “What Are the Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer?”
American Urological Association: “Early Detection of Prostate Cancer: AUA Guideline.”
Prostate Cancer Foundation: “Active Surveillance.”
CDC: “Prostate Cancer Risk Factors.”
MD Anderson Cancer Center: “Prostate Cancer Treatment.”
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: “Screening Guidelines: Prostate Cancer.”
Michigan Cancer Consortium: “Managing Symptoms After Prostate Cancer: Sexual Side Effects.”
Urology Care Foundation: “Prostate Cancer: Surgical Management.”
Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on November 29, 2015
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