The Myths and Misconceptions of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is not something that people talk about often. As a result, the misconceptions are rampant.
To highlight the many misunderstandings about prostate cancer, we reached out on the ProstateCancer.net Facebook page, asking you to fill in the blank: "People need to understand that prostate cancer _____."
Clearly, this issue matters. More than 100 of you commented. Here is what you said.
Prostate cancer is not "cancer light"
Unfortunately, some people are so eager to hear that you are OK they do not let you talk about how hard prostate cancer can be. Not all of your friends and family have the emotional bandwidth to meet you with open ears and look at life through your eyes.
Framing prostate cancer as "cancer light" is dismissive and frankly untrue. No cancer is "good" cancer. It is OK to be honest and speak up when people make false assumptions about your diagnosis. Moreover, this type of dismissive language can close the door to having important conversations about our emotional well-being, especially in those moments when we need support. Remember, it is OK to not be OK.
"Is not cancer light. When you hear that word from your doctor, it is life-changing, for you and for your family."
"Is really cancer. I get so tired of people saying ‘Well at least it is just prostate cancer.’ It is cancer! Yes, there is a good success rate for a cure. But it can be deadly and the treatment can be very emotional and physically challenging."
Young people are diagnosed with prostate cancer
In most cases, the average age men are diagnosed with prostate cancer is 66. However, men can be diagnosed at a younger age.
When men are diagnosed younger there is a higher chance the cancer will already be more advanced. This is why it is important for men to get routine screening for prostate cancer. The sooner you have your PSA levels tested, that is, your prostate-specific antigens, the sooner you know where you stand.
"Can happen in young people and can very much kill slowly. Not a good cancer."
"Does not discriminate and can affect even a healthy younger man."
Everyone's experience with prostate cancer is unique
Everyone's experience with prostate cancer is different and depends on their diagnosis. For those who have non-metastatic (the cancer has not spread outside the prostate) prostate cancer, there is a higher likelihood to be "undetectable" following treatment. Additionally, the chances of reaching undetectable are higher for those whose prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated early.
"Mets and non-mets cancers are two different diseases."
I am more than my prostate cancer
So many of you have accepted your diagnosis and see that it is a fraction of who you are. You are husbands, fathers, brothers, friends, and a host of other things. You have hobbies and passions, and you are taking time to enjoy these activities rather than ruminate on this diagnosis, for which you are already doing everything you can.
"Does not define who I am."
"Does not define me. This is the third time cancer has tried to defeat me. God willing, I just keep going!"
Men need to get routinely checked
Most of you reading this are here because you or your partner already have been diagnosed. However, if you have not been tested, this is your friendly reminder to do so.
Likewise, many of you reading have maybe not had conversations with coworkers, sons, cousins, sports teammates, and friends about the importance of prostate cancer screening. The conversation is not as weird as you think. Besides, what is one possibly awkward conversation if it means saving someone’s life?
"Men, get it checked. Know your PSA."
"Goes largely undetected for years simply because it shows almost no symptoms when in its early stage and is most treatable. And, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) the number of men living with undetected is in the hundreds of thousands."
Tell us what you think
We want to say thank you to everyone who shared. We appreciate your honesty in helping people better understand what life looks like with and after prostate cancer.
But the conversation does not need to end here. In the comments tell us what else people need to understand about prostate cancer.
Have you had urinary control since prostate cancer surgery?