Prostate Cancer Self-Defense: Nine Deadly Myths

Original Article: http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/prostate-cancer-self-defense-nine-deadly-myths/

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Myth: No Symptoms Means No Cancer

Prostate cancer can cause various urinary symptoms, including urgency and a diminished stream, as well as pain in the back. But symptoms typically don’t appear until the cancer has reached an advanced stage – at which point effective treatment may be difficult. Men shouldn’t assume that the absence of symptoms means no cancer.

Myth: If Dad Had It, Son Will Too

Having a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) with prostate cancer definitely increases a man’s risk of developing the disease. In fact, a man with three first-degree relatives who have been diagnosed with the disease faces a roughly 50-50 chance of having cancer himself, according to Dr. Lepor. But some men with a strong family history of prostate cancer remain cancer-free.

Myth: Only Old Men Get Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is more common in older men, but young men can get it too. In fact, men can develop the disease in their forties or even their thirties, says Dr. Lepor. That’s why it’s a good idea for men to be screened for the disease starting at age 50. Screening beginning at age 40 is recommended for men at high risk for the disease, including African-Americans and those with a family history of the disease.

Myth: Supplements Can Prevent Prostate Cancer

Not long ago, doctors were excited by studies suggesting that certain nutritional supplements – notably the mineral selenium and vitamin E – could cut the risk for prostate cancer. But more recent – and more rigorous – research failed to confirm those findings. Says Dr. Lepor, there’s no convincing evidence that nutritional supplements can cut a man’s prostate cancer risk.

Myth: Pomegranate Juice Knocks Out Prostate Cancer Cells

Pomegranate juice has been shown to kill prostate cancer cells – in a test tube. But there’s little reason to think that the juice has the the same effect inside a man’s body.

“If you are at high risk for the disease, you could try it,” Dr. Lepor says of pomegranate juice. “But try it without a false sense of expectation.”

In any case, he says, the juice should be considered a complement to conventional treatments – not a substitute.

Myth: Vasectomy Causes Prostate Cancer

At least one recent study seemed to indicate that prostate cancer is more common among men who have undergone vasectomy. But subsequent research disproved that finding, Dr. Lepor says.

Myth: Infrequent Sex Turns the Prostate Cancerous

“There is no evidence that your sexual frequency is related to your risk for prostate cancer,” says Dr. Lepor. Frequent sex, infrequent sex – it doesn’t make any difference to a man’s risk level.

Myth: Prostate Cancer Is Infectious

Can prostate cancer be caused by an infection? There’s no evidence of that, says Dr. Lepor. Nor is there any evidence that prostate cancer is caused by smoking, heavy drinking, a sedentary lifestyle, eating lots of fatty food, or any other lifestyle factor.

Myth: New Scans Make Biopsies Obsolete

Someday, MRI or ultrasound exams may make biopsies obsolete – or at least much less common. But not yet. As of now, says Dr. Lepor, biopsy remains the only reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer.
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My Husband Had Prostate Cancer and All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt

When my husband came home from the doctor with the news that he needed a biopsy to rule out prostate cancer, I was instantly worried. Not about the test coming back positive, rather about him becoming a basket case, obsessed with fear that he might have cancer. I couldn’t wait until he got the happy call and we could return to our normal lives.

I even minimized his concerns, “People get biopsies all the time and they usually come back negative. Besides, only old guys get prostate cancer.”

Turned out, I was wrong.

Not only was the biopsy incredibly painful (in fact, more so than any treatment to follow), the results were not the negative ones I had so confidently predicted.

When the doctor uttered the “c” word, I was in more shock than my husband. He had already accepted his fate. I, on the other hand, was dumbfounded and even suspicious, like the time my dentist told me I needed a crown right after he boasted about purchasing a new boat.

The doctor described the different types and stages of prostate cancers and how it’s not just one cancerous tumor, but actually a cluster of tumors. He went over treatment options and emphasized that prostate cancer was unusual in that it could essentially be “cured” by removing the prostate gland entirely with surgery.

I turned to my husband, expecting to see a shared look of relief, but there was none. Apparently, after the word, “cancer,” he had completely tuned out.

I understood that learning one has cancer is shocking news, but with this cancer and his particular case, it was totally treatable. Sure, the prostate gland, located just north of the penis, is in a pretty sensitive area and the surgery would result in some pain, but my husband was in good shape and would likely heal quickly, I figured.

What I wasn’t grasping at the time was just how fond men are of their penises. The very thought of something sharp coming close to it or the idea that something might interfere in any way with the way it functions, is to most men, terrifying.

But I didn’t get that then. I honestly believed that all he needed was a day or two to realize that this cloud had a great silver lining. Yes, he had cancer, but he would be fine. I was sure that my positive approach could eventually snap him out of it.

As he started to drive out of the parking structure I could tell he was looking for the exit. “It’s over there,” I said.

“Really? Are you sure?” he barked. “Because you were pretty sure my test would be negative and look how that turned out!”

Okay, clearly he needed more time.

After breaking the news to friends and family, my husband realized he was not alone. Everyone seemed to have a a relative who recently had prostate cancer. My dad had had it. His dad had had it. John Kerry, Joe Torre and Robert DeNiro had it. Fortunately, all the stories ended well.

We quickly became prostate cancer experts. I assumed that the more we knew and the more stories he heard with positive outcomes, my husband’s fears would be assuaged. I wouldn’t allow him to dwell on the negatives or worry. If he did, I’d quickly swoop in with an uplifting stat like that the fifteen year survival rate can be as high as 92%.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-hansen-brakeman/my-husband-had-prostate-c_b_4325848.html