September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Not only is this the best time to increase your knowledge of the symptoms, risks, screening tests, and treatments for prostate cancer, but it’s also an opportunity to discover the truth behind the myths and misconceptions surrounding the disease. Here are the facts.
Myth #1: Only older men can get prostate cancer.
Fact: The risk of prostate cancer increases as you get older. However, there are many other factors that may cause a man to develop prostate cancer earlier in life, including genetics, physical health, lifestyle, race, and even geographical environment.
Myth #2: My screening shows high PSA levels; I definitely have prostate cancer.
Fact: There are many factors that can cause PSA levels to spike, including certain medications, recent ejaculation, inflammation of the prostate gland, and testosterone supplements. An inflamed or enlarged prostate can also cause high PSA levels. Your doctor will take all these other possibilities into consideration before deciding whether you need more tests to check for prostate cancer.
Myth #3: Prostate cancer is only a problem if it causes symptoms.
Fact: Prostate cancer is a notoriously asymptomatic cancer, so many men will not experience any warning signs. Usually when it’s in advanced stages the cancer will begin to cause symptoms. When prostate cancer goes undetected and left untreated, it may grow and spread beyond the prostate gland to surrounding tissue and other vital organs like the bones, therefore making regular screenings key.
Myth #4: Getting prostate cancer surgery and treatment means the end of my sex life.
Fact: Surgery, radiation therapy, and other prostate cancer treatments may impact your sex life by lowering your sex drive or making it more difficult to get an erection. However, there are ways to return to an active sex life after surgery and treatment. Your doctor may recommend rehabilitation and medical treatments.
Myth #5: Prostate cancer doesn’t run in my family, so I’m safe.
Fact: Genetics and family history do play a role in developing prostate cancer, making you more at risk if you have a close relative, such as your father or brother, who has or had prostate cancer. While you’re more likely to get prostate cancer if it runs in your family, the risk for prostate cancer also increases as you age, regardless of family medical history.
There’s still some debate on the exact age you should start getting regularly screened for prostate cancer. If the disease runs in your family, you should start having a conversation with your doctor and discuss if it’s recommended for you to get screened as early as 40 or 45. It’s also worth mentioning that not everyone with a family history of prostate cancer will get it themselves.
The five year survival rate for people whose prostate cancer has not spread outside the prostate is very high – 99 percent. However, the survival rate is significantly reduced to 31 percent if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, liver, and lungs – making screening important to catching the disease in its earliest stages.
At Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology, we provide the latest in prostate cancer treatment. We are among the first in Florida to offer CyberKnife radiosurgery treatment for prostate cancer, which is available at our Brandon facility.
Contact Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology today for more information about prostate cancer and prostate treatment options. Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology has multiple facilities located in the Tampa Bay area.