MYTH: Most prostate cancers are diagnosed because men go to their doctor with symptoms.
FACT: Prostate cancers are most commonly detected when men undergo screening for prostate cancer which includes a blood test, a PSA, and a digital rectal exam (DRE) where the prostate size and shape is assessed.
*Note: Men, of average risk, should have a conversation with their doctor about when to begin prostate cancer screening at the age of 45.
FACT: Early stage prostate cancer doesn’t usually present with symptoms. The most common symptoms seen when cancer progresses include:
*Note: Whenever these symptoms are present, men should contact their healthcare provider.
MYTH: Prostate cancer is a disease of older men.
FACT: According to the American Cancer Society, 60% of prostate cancer is diagnosed in men aged 65 and older. Therefore, 40% of prostate cancers are diagnosed at an earlier age but infrequently before the age of 40. Factors that increase the chance of being diagnosed at a younger age include:
*Note: Men, who are at a higher risk, will need to begin prostate cancer screening at an earlier age.
MYTH: Men with an elevated PSA must have prostate cancer.
FACT: There are many reasons for a PSA to be elevated that are not cancer. The following can contribute to elevated levels:
*Note: Some medications, such as those used to treat enlarged prostates, can cause PSAs to be artificially lower. Further, men who are overweight or obese may have artificially lower PSAs.
MYTH: Most men with prostate cancer will die from their cancer.
FACT: While prostate can be a serious disease, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from their disease. Advances in screening, diagnosis and treatment have improved survival.
MYTH: Prostate cancer patients always get chemotherapy or surgery.
FACT: Each man must understand the extent of their disease, risks of treatment and impact on quality of life. Men, who have local and early stage disease, have more treatment choices. Sometimes prostate cancer can be slow-growing, and treatment can cause untoward side effects. “Watchful waiting” is one option of doing nothing unless symptoms appear. “Active surveillance” is another option that includes monitoring PSAs and symptoms, and possibly performing prostate biopsies.
Bruce W. Porterfield, MD, PhD
Medical Oncologist / Hematologist
Sherri Porterfield, RN, MSN
*Note: Men with prostate cancer are encouraged to gather medical opinions from different types of doctors including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and urologists so that they are best prepared to make treatment decisions.
MYTH: There is not a connection between a father having prostate cancer and his daughter having breast cancer.
FACT: A man with the BRCA mutation is at higher risk of prostate cancer. If he passes the BRCA mutation to his daughter, she could be at a higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer.