Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the UK, yet many men know little about the disease or are misinformed by the various myths surrounding it.
According to Prostate Cancer UK, more than 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK every year. That’s 129 men per day. Around 400,000 men are currently living with and after the condition. Every 45 minutes one man dies from prostate cancer, equating to more than 11,000 men each year. Despite the disease being the most common type of cancer among men, lots of men in the UK know little about it. This may be partly due to there being a number of myths surrounding the condition.
Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, Medical Director, Bupa Health Clinics, reveals the truth behind the five biggest myths related to prostate cancer and advises when you should see a GP.
Myth #1: I don’t have any symptoms, so I can’t have prostate cancer
Prostate cancer often takes hold before any symptoms begin to surface. For many, the early noticeable symptoms include pain or subtle differences in urination, but this can be mild and get progressively worse over several years. Other symptoms can include pain in bones across your hips and back. The key is to have regular health checks even if you aren’t necessarily experiencing symptoms, or if symptoms are mild. This will give you peace of mind or if necessary ensure you can access treatment as early as possible, which is crucial to better outcomes.
Myth #2: I’m not old, so I don’t need to worry about it
While prostate cancer is more common in those over 50-years-old you should remember that diagnosis can occur at an earlier age. Don’t feel you are immune to it or that it’s something you don’t need to worry about because you’re under the age of 50 – be proactive about your health and get regular health checks.
Myth #3: Prostate cancer is hereditary, so if nobody in my family has had it, I’m safe
Unfortunately, while family history of prostate cancer means it’s more likely for you to develop the disease, this doesn’t mean you’re immune to it if your brother, father or any other male in the family has never had it. One in seven men in the UK today will develop prostate cancer, making it incredibly common and therefore it isn’t as simple as putting it down to family history.
Myth #4: My GP has recommended a PSA test, so they think I have cancer
This isn’t true. PSA tests measure the levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the prostate. It is not a specific test for cancer, meaning you shouldn’t be overly concerned should you be referred for a test by your GP. The PSA test does however make cancer detection in its early stages possible, which is very important. Some people think PSA tests are bad for you, too, which isn’t true. It’s a simple blood test which doesn’t pose any actual danger to your health.
Myth #5: I won’t be able to live well after prostate cancer diagnosis
Prostate cancer affects more men in the UK than any other cancer, with 130 men diagnosed each day. But with quick diagnosis, intervention and tailored treatment, there is a very good chance of beating it. Thankfully, prostate cancer survival in the UK has tripled in the last 40 years, while 84% of men survive prostate cancer for 10 or more years after diagnosis. The important thing is to seek regular health checks and advice from clinical experts who can diagnose any issues as early as possible, giving you a much better chance of living life to the fullest and hopefully beating the disease after diagnosis.
Bupa Health Clinics have 30-minute Male Health Check, specifically designed to provide men with fast access to assessment and advice for prostate and testicular cancer.