Myth 1: All men should have a PSA test.
All men were once urged to get a PSA test after age 50, but those guidelines have changed. Now the American Cancer Society says you should talk with your doctor about whether a PSA test makes sense for you.
The PSA test measures levels of prostate-specific antigen in your blood. While high PSA levels can mean you have prostate cancer, they don’t always mean that. Several other conditions can cause high PSA levels, including a urinary tract infection of enlarged prostate.
Even when a high PSA level does indicate cancer, in some men prostate cancer grows so slowly that it doesn’t need to be treated. Giving the PSA test to everyone means men sometimes have surgeries and other treatments they don’t need.
Researchers haven’t yet devised a test that can tell whether high PSA levels mean you actually have cancer, and if you do, whether that cancer is aggressive, needing immediate treatment.
The best advice is to talk to your doctor about your risk factors and whether the test is right for you.
Myth 2: Prostate cancer treatment will destroy your sex life and leave you incontinent.
Fact: Sexual and urinary incontinence problems can occur after prostate cancer treatment, although a skilled, experienced surgeon may be able to avoid damaging the nerves involved in having an erection.
In some cases, because of the size of the tumor, it isn’t possible to completely spare the nerves, But your doctor can suggest medications and devices that can help you regain your sex life.
Myth 3: Prostate cancer is likely to be fatal.
Fact: In many cases, prostate cancer is growing so slowly that a man is likely to die of some other cause before prostate cancer kills him. This is why “active surveillance” is sometimes used instead of surgery, particularly in older men.
Even in men with advanced stage prostate cancer that can no longer be treated with radiation and surgery, the disease can sometimes be managed by reducing testosterone levels, because prostate cancer needs testosterone to grow.
Myth 4: Only old men get prostate cancer.
Fact: Prostate cancer is more common in older men—about 65% of cases are found in men over age 65, but that means 35% happen in younger men, and sometimes that cancer is quite aggressive. The risk is higher for African American men and for men with a strong family history of the disease.
Myth 5: Vasectomies cause prostate cancer.
Fact: Careful research has determined that there is no link between vasectomy and your risk of getting prostate cancer.
Myth 6: You won’t be able to start a family if you’ve been treated for prostate cancer.
Fact: There is some truth to this, but there is also a simple solution. Prostatic fluid, which nourishes the sperm, is produced by the prostate gland, and that gland will be removed during surgery. However, if a man wants to start a family, he can have some of his sperm frozen before treatment begins.
Myth 7: Surgery and radiation are the only options if you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Fact: In some men, active surveillance—meaning, frequent checkups and tests—may be the best approach, at least initially.
If you have questions about your prostate health or other urological issues, the staff at Affiliated Urologists are happy to talk with you.
Affiliated Urologists is an award-winning practice recognized both locally and nationally that has provided service to patients in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and surrounding communities in the Valley, for over 40 years. The physicians emphasize top-of-the-line comprehensive urological care and strive to deliver the highest outcomes for patient satisfaction. To make an appointment, call 602-264-0608 or contact us for instructions on scheduling an appointment.
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.