Myths about prostate cancer risk in families, PSA testing and more

Does prostate cancer “run in the family”? Is PSA testing any good? What happens when prostate cancer returns after treatment? There are plenty of myths about the most common cancer in men – and here we shed some more light on a few of them.

 

“Prostate cancer is hereditary”

Where does the myth come from?

Family history is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. A man with one close relative with prostate cancer (for example, a father or a brother) is twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as a man with no family history of the disease. One in 10 men who get prostate cancer has prostate cancer that is caused by genes inherited from their parents (hereditary prostate cancer).

The reality behind the myth

Although, prostate cancer is known to run in families, not everyone who has a family history of the disease will get it - just as not everyone who gets the disease has a family history of it. If prostate cancer runs in your family, talk with your doctor about when you should be screened using PSA tests.

 

“PSA testing does more harm than good”

Where does the myth come from?

Even though some experts recommend against regular PSA tests, it’s not necessarily because of the test itself (as it is just a simple blood test). PSA screening certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s also not inherently hazardous to your health. The real problem is the confidence with which we can interpret the results and make decisions about follow-up tests and treatment. Since high PSAs can be caused by anything from cycling to ejaculation, many men are unnecessarily having invasive biopsies or, if they do have cancer, being treated for slow-growing tumors that might not affect them as much in the future.

The reality behind the myth

PSA tests are valuable and can save lives. PSA tests lead to biopsies, which can find cancer early, when it’s more receptive to treatment. Talk with your doctor about whether or when you should be screened. 

 

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"Prostate cancer isn’t a fatal disease"

Where does the myth come from?

Forty years ago, more than 2 in 10 men diagnosed with prostate cancer survived their disease for at least ten years; the figure is now more than 8 in 10. The statistics are telling us that 99% of men with the most common types of prostate cancer overall, whose prostate cancer is localized to the prostate will survive more than five years after diagnosis. Consequently, the cure rate for prostate cancer is very high. For that reason, for many men, prostate cancer is less serious than other medical conditions they may have.

The reality behind the myth

Although the five-year survival rate is very high, prostate cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death in men, behind only lung cancer.
Most prostate cancers are what doctors call “indolent,” which means that they progress slowly and can be either treated or actively monitored over the course of many years. However, some other forms of the disease may be aggressive and dangerous. This is why early diagnosis is important.
If the misconception that prostate cancer is not a threat prevents you from seeking care, it could be deadly.

 

"When prostate cancer returns, it is always fatal"

Where does the myth come from?

For many men, prostate cancer can be treated with surgery or radiotherapy. But in up to 1 in 3 men the cancer comes back (recurs) after treatment. It’s emotionally traumatic to go through treatment for prostate cancer, thinking it is cured, and then learn that it might have come back. For many men, it’s as if they’re dealing with another diagnosis of cancer, except this time it’s much worse because there is less likelihood of getting adequate treatment. A man’s confidence and sense of safety may be shattered, especially because the popular misconception is that when prostate cancer recurs, it is deadly.

The reality behind the myth

A prostate cancer recurrence can certainly be emotionally devastating, but it does not mean it is going to be fatal. What it does mean is that you’ll likely have to try another prostate cancer treatment approach, such as hormone therapy or combination therapy.

 

 

 

Other sources include Everyday Health

 

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