Separating fact from fiction: Revealing the truth behind common prostate cancer myths.
There are so many myths out there about prostate cancer and lots of misunderstanding about who is at risk, how to be tested and when to have treatment. Our Specialist Nurses listen to the men and their loved ones who contact us, and address their concerns to make sure they have the information they need to feel fully informed about prostate cancer. Our Specialist Nurse Meg lays the facts on the line.
Myth 1: “There’s no need to have a PSA test if I don’t have any symptoms of prostate cancer”
This is a common misconception and one which is important to overturn. Sometimes men tell me their GP has refused to give them a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test because they didn’t have any symptoms of prostate cancer. However, most early stage prostate cancers don’t cause any symptoms. In fact, any man over the age of 50 can ask their GP for a PSA test to check for signs of prostate cancer.
If you’re over 45 and have a higher risk of prostate cancer (for example, if you’re black or you have a family history of it), talk to your GP about whether the PSA test is right for you.
Myth 2: “A high PSA level means I have prostate cancer”
Not true. A lot of men I speak to feel confused and worried about what their PSA blood tests results mean. Although most men with prostate cancer will have a higher level of PSA, not all men with a high PSA will have prostate cancer.
Your PSA can rise for other reasons such as a urine infection, inflammation in the prostate or benign prostate enlargement. If you have a high PSA, further tests will help get a clearer picture.
Read more about tests for prostate problems here.
Myth 3: “It’s important to treat prostate cancer as soon as possible”
This is something concerned men and family members ask me about a lot. Men are often keen to act quickly when they hear they have cancer, but in fact not all prostate cancer needs immediate treatment. Most prostate cancers are slow growing, and you’d have time to consider your options and make the right decision for you.
In fact, some men might never need treatment or can delay their treatment while their cancer is carefully monitored.
Myth 4: “Only old men get prostate cancer”
I meet a lot of people who think prostate cancer is a disease which only affects old men. This isn’t true. Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, but your risk does increase as you get older. The average age to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 65-69. If you’re under 50, your risk is very low. It is still possible to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in your forties, but it’s uncommon.
If you're over 45 but have a higher risk of prostate cancer (e.g. if you have a family history of prostate cancer or you're a black man), Speak to your GP about whether the PSA test is right for you.
If you’re worried about your risk of prostate cancer read more here.
Myth 5: “You don’t die of prostate cancer; you die with it”
This is something I get calls about a lot both from men and from family members, but it isn't strictly true.
Each year 11,000 men die of prostate cancer. In fact, more men now die of prostate cancer than women die of breast cancer.
It's important to understand what's behind the figures, though. The number of men dying of prostate cancer is increasing because we have a growing ageing population. But, men diagnosed today are actually two and half time more likely to live for 10 years or more than they were if they were diagnosed in 1990.
If you’ve got questions or worries about prostate cancer or other prostate problems, get in contact with our team of Specialist Nurses. We’re here to support you and we have the time to talk. Call 0800 074 8383 or chat with us online using Live Chat.