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Prostate cancer is a disease that, despite affecting many men in Brazil, is still surrounded by myths and taboos that make early diagnosis difficult. So that you can understand more about the topic and how to identify warning signs, we have separated a list of the seven main myths about prostate cancer.
Myth 1: Only older men get prostate cancer
According to the guide produced by the National Cancer Institute (Inca), out of every ten men diagnosed with malignant prostate cancer, nine are over 55 years old. However, the disease can also affect men in their 40s. Family history with relatives who developed the tumor before age 60, overweight and obesity are risk factors, as well as alcohol consumption and smoking. Heavy smokers, for example, may have a doubled risk of developing the disease, in addition to being more likely to die from cancer. On the other hand, for those who stopped smoking more than a decade ago, the risk is equal to that of patients who never smoked. Data are from the Urology Care Foundation, an entity supported by the American Urology Association.
Myth 2: Enlarged prostate is always a sign of cancer
Not always. With age, the prostate, which is about the size of a plum, usually gets larger, which does not always indicate the presence of a malignant tumor. In these cases, the diagnosis is prostatic hyperplasia, a benign condition that occurs naturally with age and affects more than half of men over 50 years of age.
Myth 3: If a man can’t feel the tumor, it means he doesn’t have prostate cancer
Prostate tumors usually do not cause pain or discomfort and the symptoms vary greatly and end up causing some confusion, as they may be related to other health problems. In any case, you should see a doctor in the following cases:
- Feeling of not having emptied the bladder after urinating;
- Difficulty starting to urinate;
- Difficulty stopping urination;
- Urgent urge to pee – often, the person can’t get to the bathroom in time;
- Difficulty maintaining an erection;
- Pain when ejaculating;
- Dor us testicles;
- Sensation of pain in the pelvis (below the testicles) or in the lower back;
- Bleeding from the urethra.
Myth 4: Surgery is the only cure for prostate cancer
It may be one of the treatment options, but this depends on a medical evaluation, which takes into account the stage of the tumor and the presence or absence of metastasis. When making the therapeutic proposal, the doctor can adopt the following conducts (associated or not):
- Monitoring the tumor to see if it is progressing, a process doctors call active surveillance
- Focal therapy with HIFU, which causes a temperature increase in the tumor region and destroys cancer cells without causing damage to adjacent regions;
- Radical prostatectomy, surgery that consists of the removal of the prostate and seminal vesicles. This alternative is valid for more advanced cases and is currently done by laparoscopy or robotically. In addition to reducing patient recovery time, robot-guided surgery has a lower rate of complications such as urinary incontinence and impotence;
- Hormone therapy.
Myth 5: PSA testing is not necessary
This test measures the amount of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). High levels of this protein can indicate not only cancer, but also benign prostate diseases. Alongside digital rectal examination, in which the physician clinically assesses the size, shape and texture of the gland, and biopsy, which is indicated when there is suspicion of a tumor, PSA measurement is important to detect malignant neoplasm of the prostate.
Myth 6: Treatment for prostate cancer should start as soon as possible
Not always. In some cases, the doctor and patient decide not to treat the malignant neoplasm of the prostate, a decision that is usually based on the following reasons:
- The tumor is at an early stage and is slow growing
- The patient is of advanced age or has other illnesses and the treatment will not prolong his life.
In these situations, the rule is to monitor the evolution of the tumor: active surveillance. If it starts to grow, it may be time to start treatment.
Myth 7: Prostate cancer is always curable
Cases diagnosed early in which the tumor reached only the prostate have a high chance of cure. On the other hand, very large tumors that occupy not only the entire prostate, but also reach adjacent regions, are more difficult to treat and do not always have an effective cure.
check out the series Understanding Cancer to read all the texts we produce about the most common forms of the disease, learn about the subject and know what is true or false when talking about this very important subject.