Myth 1: Prostate cancer surgery will end your sex life and cause urine leakage.
Fact: Your surgeon may be able to spare the nerves that help trigger erections. That means you should be able to have an erection strong enough for sex again. But it may be a while. Recovery can take from 4 to 24 months, maybe longer. Younger men usually heal sooner.
If you still have trouble, ask your doctor about treatments for erectile dysfunction. There are medications and devices that can help. He’ll tell you if they’re right for you.
Other prostate cancer treatments, like radiation and hormone therapy, also can affect your sex life. Talk to your doctor about your choices.
You might leak urine after surgery, but it’s usually short-term. Within a year, about 95% of men have as much bladder control as they did before the operation.
Myth 2: Only elderly men get prostate cancer.
Fact: It’s rare for men under 40 to get it. If you have concerns, ask your doctor if you should get tested earlier. Age isn’t the only factor. Others include:
- Family history: If your father or brother had it, you could be two or three times more likely to get it. The more relatives you have with the disease, the greater your chances of getting it.
- Race: African-American men are more likely to get it than anyone else. Scientists don’t know why.
Discuss your risks with your doctor so you can decide together when you should be tested.
Myth 3: You have to start treatment right away.
Fact: You and your doctor may decide not to treat your prostate cancer. Reasons include:
- It’s in an early stage and is growing very slowly.
- You’re elderly or have other illnesses. Prostate cancer treatment may not prolong your life and may make it harder to care for your other health problems.
In such cases, your doctor will likely suggest “active surveillance.” This means that he’ll check you often and order tests to see if your cancer is getting worse. If your situation changes, you may decide to start treatment.
Myth 4: A high PSA score means you have prostate cancer.
Fact: Not necessarily. An inflamed prostate can drive up your numbers. The score helps your doctor decide if you need more tests to check for prostate cancer. Also, he’ll watch your PSA score over time. If it’s on the rise, that could be a sign of a problem. If it goes down after cancer treatment, that’s great.
Myth 5: If you get prostate cancer, you’ll die of the disease.
Fact: Many men with prostate cancer are likely to live to an old age or die of some other cause.