Prostate Cancer remains one of the least talked about cancers in general public at-least in India. Hence there remains a great deal of confusion surrounding this disease.

Ask any group of men about prostate cancer – some might have few notions of their own unsubstantiated by medical information, other might change the topic and a couple may have few jokes ready too.

Most men who have ever heard about a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) will say so, that the PSA is the benchmark for Cancer Prostate diagnosis for them and their physicians

1. Prostate cancer is an old man’s disease.
WRONG!

  • The more likely you are to be diagnosed with prostate cancer (65% of cases are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older)
  • 35% men are diagnosed at an early age
  • Age Wise incidence:
       < 40 Years:  1 in 10,000 men
          40 – 50 Years: 1 in 40 to 60 men.
          60 – 69 Years: 1 in 15 men.
  • There are many risk factors to consider - Your race, family history, physical health  and lifestyle—even geographic location.


    2. If you don’t have any symptoms, you don’t have prostate cancer.

    WRONG!

    Prostate cancer is one of the most asymptomatic cancers in oncology, meaning not all men experience symptoms.

    Many times symptoms can be mistaken or attributed to something else.

    Signs of prostate cancer are often first detected by a doctor during a routine check-up. Common symptoms include a need to urinate frequently, difficulty starting or stopping urination, weak or interrupted flow of urination, painful or burning urination, difficulty having an erection, painful ejaculation, blood in the urine or semen, or frequent pain and stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs. 

    If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor.


    3. Prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer I don’t need to worry about.

    The answer to this one is sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no

    Aggressiveness can be commented upon ONLY AFTER BIOPSY keeping in mind patient’s age and health status. Patients need to understand the complexity of this disease and make treatment decisions that are right for them in consultation with a trusted Urologist.


    4. Prostate cancer doesn’t run in my family, so the odds aren’t great that I will get it? 
    WRONG!
    While a family history of prostate cancer doubles a man’s odds of being diagnosed to 1 in 3. This compares to 1 in 8 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Family history and genetics do, however, play a role in a man’s chances for developing prostate cancer. A man whose father or bother 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.


    5. The PSA test is cancer test.

    WRONG!

    The PSA tests measures levels of prostate-specific antigen in the prostate, not cancer. PSA is produced by the prostate in response to a number of problems that could be present in the prostate including an inflammation or infection (prostatitis), enlargement of the prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia) or, possibly, cancer

    Think of it as a first alert smoke alarm, instead of a fire alarm.  The PSA test may be the first step in the diagnostic process for cancer.  It has made detection of cancer in its early stages, when it is best treated, possible. Experts believe the PSA test saves the life of approximately 1 in 39 men who are tested. 

    The flip side is also the fear of over detection of cancer, which may not affect the patient in his lifetime. This is supported by various Cancer Watchdog Organizations world over.


    This article is the first of a two part series. Watch out this space for more debunked myths such as-

    6. A High PSA level means that you have prostate cancer and a Low PSA means you do not have prostate cancer.

    7. Treatment for prostate cancer always causes impotence or incontinence.

    8. Sexual activity increases the risk of developing prostate cancer.

    9. You can pass your cancer to others.

    10. TURP / Endoscopic Procedure is Adequate treatment for Cancer Prostate