Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men, especially after the age of 50. Some of the symptoms that may be associated with this type of cancer include difficulty urinating, a constant feeling of full bladder or inability to maintain an erection, for example.
However, many cancer cases may also lack specific symptoms, so it is recommended that after 50 years of age, all men have prostate cancer screened by rectal examination at the urologist and PSA blood test. . Check out the main tests that assess prostate health .
Although it is a relatively common and easily treated cancer, especially when identified early, prostate cancer still generates several types of myths that end up making screening difficult. This decreases the chances of being identified early and, consequently, reduces the cure rate.
So, to clarify the main doubts, we explain the 10 main myths and truths about this cancer:
1. It only happens in the elderly.
MYTH . Prostate cancer is more common in the elderly, having a higher incidence from the age of 50, however, the cancer does not choose ages and, therefore, can appear even in young people. Thus, it is important to always be aware of the appearance of signs or symptoms that may indicate problems in the prostate, consulting a urologist whenever this happens. See what signs to watch out for .
In addition, it is very important to have an annual screening, which is recommended from the age of 50 for men who are apparently healthy and have no family history of prostate cancer, or from 45 for men who have close family members, such as a father or brother, with a history of prostate cancer.
2. Having high PSA means having cancer.
MYTH . The increased PSA value, above 4 ng / ml, does not always mean that cancer is developing. That’s because any inflammation in the prostate can cause an increase in the production of this enzyme, including problems much simpler than cancer, such as prostatitis or benign hypertrophy, for example. In these cases, although treatment is necessary, it is quite different from cancer treatment, requiring the correct guidance of a urologist.
Check out how to understand the PSA exam result .
3. Digital rectal examination is really necessary.
TRUTH . The digital rectal exam can be quite uncomfortable and, therefore, many men prefer to choose to have only the PSA exam as a form of cancer screening. However, there are already several cases of cancer registered in which there was no change in the levels of PSA in the blood, remaining the same as those of a completely healthy man without cancer, that is, less than 4 ng / ml. Thus, digital rectal examination can help the doctor to identify any changes in the prostate, even if the PSA values are correct.
Ideally, at least two tests should be done together to try to identify the cancer, the most simple and economical of which are digital rectal examination and PSA examination.
4. Having an enlarged prostate is the same as cancer.
MYTH . An enlarged prostate may, in fact, be a sign of cancer developing in the gland, however, an enlarged prostate may also arise in other more common prostate problems, especially in cases of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as prostatic hypertrophy, is also very common in men over the age of 50, but it is a benign condition that may not cause any symptoms or changes in everyday life. Still, several men who have prostatic hypertrophy may also experience symptoms similar to cancer, such as difficulty urinating or a constant feeling of a full bladder. See other symptoms and better understand this condition .
In these situations, it is always best to consult the urologist to correctly identify the cause of the enlarged prostate, initiating the appropriate treatment.
5. Family cancer history increases the risk.
TRUTH . Having a family history of cancer increases the risk of having any type of cancer. However, according to several studies, having a first-rate family member, such as a father or brother, with a history of prostate cancer increases up to twice the chances of men developing the same type of cancer.
For this reason, men who have a direct history of prostate cancer in the family should start cancer screening up to 5 years before men without a history, that is, from the age of 45.
6. Ejaculating often lowers your risk of cancer.
IT IS NOT CONFIRMED. Although there are some studies that indicate that having more than 21 ejaculations per month can reduce the risk of developing cancer and other prostate problems, this information is not yet unanimous in the entire scientific community, as there are also studies that did not reach any relationship between the number of ejaculations and the development of cancer.
7. Pumpkin seeds reduce the risk of cancer.
TRUTH . Pumpkin seeds are very rich in carotenoids, which are substances with a powerful antioxidant action capable of preventing various types of cancer, including prostate cancer. In addition to pumpkin seeds, tomatoes have also been studied as an important food for the prevention of prostate cancer, due to their rich composition in lycopene, a type of carotenoid.
In addition to these two foods, eating healthy also helps to greatly reduce the risk of cancer. For this, it is advisable to restrict the amount of red meat in the diet, increase the intake of vegetables and limit the amount of salt or alcoholic drinks ingested. See more about what to eat to prevent prostate cancer .
8. Having a vasectomy increases the risk of cancer.
MYTH . After several researches and epidemiological studies, the relationship between the performance of vasectomy surgery and the development of cancer has not been established. Thus, vasectomy is considered safe, and there is no reason to increase the risk of prostate cancer.
9. Prostate cancer is curable.
TRUTH . Although not all cases of prostate cancer can be cured, the truth is that this is a type of cancer that has a high cure rate, especially when it is identified in its earliest stage and is affecting only the prostate.
Usually, the treatment is done with surgery to remove the prostate and eliminate cancer completely, however, depending on the age of the man and the stage of development of the disease, the urologist can indicate other types of treatment, such as the use of drugs and even chemotherapy and radiotherapy. See all treatment options used for prostate cancer .
10. Cancer treatment always causes impotence.
MYTH . The treatment of any type of cancer is always accompanied by several side effects, especially when more aggressive techniques such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy are used. In the case of prostate cancer, the main type of treatment used is surgery, which, although it is considered relatively safer, can also be accompanied by complications, including erection problems.
However, this is more frequent in more advanced cases of cancer, when the surgery is bigger and it is necessary to remove a very enlarged prostate, which increases the risk of important nerves related to the maintenance of the erection. Understand more about the surgery, its complications and recovery .