World Cancer Day: Prostate Cancer Is An Old Man's Disease, Affects Libido & Other Myths Busted
How Well Do You Understand Prostate Cancer?
Prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that is located between the bladder and penis. This gland is responsible for protecting and nourishing the sperms and contributes to the semen amount. Growths in the prostate gland can either be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancer types among men. It develops when abnormal cells in the prostate gland multiply and accumulate to form a tumour.
Screening and early detection play a very crucial role in the management of prostate cancer as the disease can be managed in the early stages through minimal medical intervention. Hence, being aware of the risk factors, early warning signs, screening and treatment methodologies are crucial to manage it and reduce morbidity.
On World Cancer Day, Dr Rajesh Ahlawat, Group Chairman - Urology and Andrology, Kidney and Urology Institute at Medanta multisuperspeciality hospital in Gurgaon, busts certain myths associated with prostate cancer:
Myth: Only Old Men Get Prostate Cancer
FACT: While most prostate cancer patients are above the age of 60 years, those who are younger are at risk too. The risk factors include family history, lifestyle, genetics, diet, obesity and smoking.
Myth: In Prostate Cancer, You Can Feel A Tumour
FACT: Prostate cancer is highly asymptomatic. The symptoms vary widely from person to person and may be caused by several other conditions or disorders as well. The common early symptoms are urination issues. Erectile dysfunction, painful ejaculation, blood in urine or semen, pain or stiffness in the lower back or groin area, unexplained weight loss or decreased energy levels are other less common symptoms.
Myth: Prostate Cancer Is Always Curable
FACT: When the cancer is diagnosed early and confined to the prostate, the success rates are higher. However, when prostate cancer is diagnosed at a later stage, the treatment becomes more complicated and difficult. It is never possible to cure disease if it has spread to areas outside the “Prostate box”.
Myth: Surgery Is The Only Treatment Option
FACT: Surgery is one of many treatment options available for prostate cancer. Another equally effective method to treat Prostate cancer is with Radiotherapy. While there is limited data available about other minimally invasive treatments, procedures such as partial gland ablation, use of heat or cold (cryotherapy) to kill prostate cancer cells within a portion of the prostate, high-intensity focused ultrasound, non-surgical therapy such as ultrasound waves to heat and destroy prostate tissue can also be other effective alternative at very early stage if disease is confined to a small area of the prostate gland.
Myth: Every Man Should Be Screened For Prostate Cancer
FACT: Prostate cancer involves a variety of risk factors such as age, overall health, race, family history of the disease, and lifestyles. The possibility of being at risk should be discussed with the doctor, post which an informed decision should be made about undergoing screening.
Myth: Prostate Cancer Affects Sex Life, And Can Cause Incontinence
FACT: There is certainly a risk of impotence and incontinence associated with prostate cancer treatment, but it is temporary and persists only in few cases. The treatment certainly causes absence of ejaculation but does not affect intercourse or its climax. The side-effects also depend upon the treatment administered and the surgeon’s technique and experience.
Myth: Don't Worry If You Don’t Have A Family History Of Prostate Cancer
FACT: Inherited gene changes can increase a man’s risk for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer does run in families, though, in most cases it occurs in men without a family history of the disease.
Myth: Prostate Cancer Needs To Be Treated Right Away
FACT: In certain cases, prostate cancer may not be treated immediately especially in the early stages when the cancer starts growing or if the treatment can increase health problems. In such cases, an active surveillance may be recommended by undergoing regular screening to monitor the spread of the cancer and decide upon the course of treatment over the behaviour of disease over a period of time.