Prostate Cancer Myths: 21 Common Misconceptions

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8. The PSA Level Always Determines if There is Prostate Cancer

There are numerous myths associated with the PSA levels. These include that a PSA of 4ng/ml or less always means that there is no prostate cancer or that a high PSA always means the presence of prostate cancer. However, there is more to a prostate cancer diagnosis than just the PSA levels. Between 15 and 20% of all men with a normal PSA level suffer from prostate cancer, while about only 30% of all men with high PSA levels have the disease.

9. Decreasing the PSA Lowers the Prostate Cancer Risk

“For the most part, this process simply gives you a false sense of security and may not give any protection from developing prostate cancer,” add the specialists in urology. “Although there is a suggestion that 5 alpha reductase inhibitors such as proscar and avodart lower the PSA and may also provide some protective value, it is unclear if the two issues are related. In addition, other researchers contest the possible benefits of using these medicines as a prophylaxis against prostate cancer.” Three other classes of medicines are also thought to reduce the PSA levels, which are statins, thiazides, and NSAIDs, but these are also not 100% certain of reducing the risk for prostate cancer.

10. When the Pathology Report Indicates Prostate Cancer, it is 100% Certain

Regarding both PSA levels and pathology reports, the idea to hold onto is to not jump to any conclusions and to wait for the final diagnosis from the physician. The prostate cancer diagnosis is involved with a certain subjectivity from the pathologists. This means that even if the pathology report indicates prostate cancer, the physician is likely to request a prostate biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, the report may indicate it, but the prostate cancer may not be clinically significant and the physician may decide not to treat it.

11. A Normal DRE Means that There is No Prostate Cancer

The digital rectal exam (DRE) is about 50% accurate in detecting prostate cancer. It lets the physician analyze the presence of induration, a prostatic nodule, abnormal texture or prostate size and tenderness. But the DRE does not confirm if a patient suffers or not from prostate cancer, and further examination is often needed.

12. An MRI Substitutes a Prostate Biopsy

An imaging study including an MRI, CAT scan,or ultrasound is not used to diagnose prostate cancer. They may be requested by the physician to evaluate the presence of suspicious areas to be targeted during a biopsy or to evaluate the extent of the cancer. However, it is a myth that an MRI can substitute a prostate biopsy.

13. Prostate Needle Biopsies Damage the Prostate

A prostate biopsy is the most common method to diagnose prostate cancer and some patients may be concerned that when conducted with a needle, the biopsy may damage the prostate. However, with the correct preparation, patients do not suffer from a prostate needle biopsy, which also has low incidences of infections or other urinary problems.

Inês holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, where she specialized in blood vessel biology, blood stem cells, and cancer. Before that, she studied Cell and Molecular Biology at Universidade Nova de Lisboa and worked as a research fellow at Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologias and Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência. Inês currently works as a Managing Science Editor, striving to deliver the latest scientific advances to patient communities in a clear and accurate manner.
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Inês holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, where she specialized in blood vessel biology, blood stem cells, and cancer. Before that, she studied Cell and Molecular Biology at Universidade Nova de Lisboa and worked as a research fellow at Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologias and Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência. Inês currently works as a Managing Science Editor, striving to deliver the latest scientific advances to patient communities in a clear and accurate manner.
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