Prostate cancer is among the top ten cancers in India. The incidence rate of this cancer are constantly and rapidly increasing in India. While early detection is important to remain cancer-free, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding prostate cancer. Here are four common myths and facts about prostate cancer that can help you take the necessary steps including scheduling a consultation with your doctor and undergoing screening.
Myth #1: If I don’t have symptoms it means I don’t have prostate cancer
A common misconception that surrounds prostate cancer is that a patient would not have the condition if he is not experiencing any symptoms. As with many other cancers, prostate cancer in the early stages does not produce any symptoms. Prostate cancer is detected typically during routine health check-ups and not from symptoms alone.
Some of the symptoms, if present, include difficulty in urinating, frequent urination, urge to urinate frequently at night, a weak flow when you urinate and a feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
Myth #2: There is no family history of prostate cancer, so the chances that I will get the condition are low
Family history and genetics play a role in a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer. A man whose father or brother had prostate cancer is twice as likely to develop the disease. The risk is further increased if the cancer was diagnosed in a family member at a younger age (less than 55 years old), or if it affected three or more family members.
However in men with no family history, other risk factors may contribute to the development of prostate cancer which include age, ethnicity, cigarette smoking, obesity and unhealthy diet habits.
Myth #3: The PSA test confirms prostate cancer
PSA is a valuable marker for prostate cancer. PSA refers to ‘prostate-specific antigen’ which is a type of protein that both normal and cancerous cells in the prostate gland produce. If the PSA level is equal to or below 4.0 ng/mL, it is considered to be normal.
Although many believe the PSA test is a confirmation test for prostate cancer, it is important to note the following:
- Older men typically have higher PSA levels even without prostate cancer.
- PSA levels may fluctuate due to many other factors such as obesity, urinary infection, prostate inflammation, and certain medications.
- If a man has a PSA level below 4 ng/mL, it does not mean that he will not develop prostate cancer.
- High PSA levels are not seen in all men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Myth #4: Prostate cancer only affects older men
Prostate cancer is typically thought to be an ‘old man’s disease.’ Although prostate cancer risk rises with age, the condition has been seen in younger men in the age group of 40 and 59. More than 35% of the cases diagnosed are in men before the age of 65. Apart from age, other risk factors (as mentioned above) may also contribute to the development of prostate cancer.
To understand more on the causes, screening and treatment options for prostate cancer, you can read in detail here. If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer and looking for further advice regarding the treatment options, our care managers and the team of expert Oncologists are here to guide you.