Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer forms in the prostate, a gland located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum in males. In Singapore, prostate cancer is the third most common cancer among men after lung and colon cancer1.
However there are still a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding prostate cancer, including how it’s detected and how it’s managed and treated. With the help of Dr. Chong Kian Tai, a urologist who manages both basic General Urology and complex Urologic Oncology issues, we go over some of the common prostate cancer myths, latest treatment options for early stage prostate cancer and prevention.
Myth 1: Prostate Cancer Causes Urine Leakage
In the early stages of prostate cancer, majority of patients do not have any symptoms. Patients may be fine and well when passing urine with no blood or difficulty.
However, prostate cancer that manifest outside of the prostate may affect the muscles that control urination, causing urinary symptoms such as incontinence and slow urine flow.
Myth 2: Prostate Cancer Does Not Kill You
Prostate cancer often grows slowly and it can be effectively treated if detected in the early stages. For some patients, especially those who suffer from later stages of prostate cancer, the malignant cancer cells may grow faster, resulting in them spreading to other parts of the body which may ultimately cause death.
Myth 3: Prostate Cancer Only Affects Older Men Above 70 Years Old
In Singapore, the recommended age for screening is 50 years and older. One of the common tests used to screen for prostate cancer is the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test, which search for a protein produced by the prostate. PSAs are detected by blood test and acts as a cancer marker, and readings that are higher than normal may be a possible indication of prostate cancer.
Myth 4: Prostate Cancer Treatment is Not Effective
Prostate cancer treatment is very effective in the early stages. Traditional treatment options, depending on the cancer stage and recommendation by your doctor, may include hormone therapy, surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
New treatment options which comes with fewer side effects as compared to traditional treatment are also available, one of which is Focal Therapy using High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. This radiation-free treatment propagates ultrasounds at the tumour, using intense heat to destroy the cancer tissue within the targeted area.
As a result of the targeted treatment, Focal Therapy causes less damage to the surrounding organs around the prostate, resulting in less urine incontinence, sexual problems and erectile dysfunction when compared to major surgery.
Screening and Prevention is Key
As prostate cancer may not present any symptoms in the early stages, men who are aged above 50, and have a family history of prostate cancer are advised to go for regular prostate screening.
A high-fat diet also increases your risk of prostate cancer, so do take a healthy diet with less red meat, more vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants, and maintain a healthy weight through exercise to keep prostate cancer at bay.