Amid a flurry of high-profile prostate cancer announcements, doctors are weighing in to debunk common myths about the disease and emphasize the importance of early screenings.
On Monday, Feb. 5, Buckingham Palace announced that King Charles III was diagnosed with a form of cancer and is undergoing treatment. The news comes shortly after the king underwent a routine procedure for an enlarged prostate on Jan. 17.
The details of his cancer diagnosis have not been confirmed, although the palace said it’s not related to his treatment for a benign prostate condition, the AP reported.
The palace said “a separate issue of concern was noted” during Charles’ treatment for an enlarged prostate last month, when he spent three nights in a London hospital.
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In January, the King Center announced that Dexter Scott King, the youngest son of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, died at age 62 after a battle with prostate cancer.
Also last month, baseball Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, 64, revealed that he’s been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and will begin treatment.
In other prostate cancer news, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was diagnosed with the disease recently and underwent a minimally invasive surgical procedure called a prostatectomy.
What to know about prostate cancer
An estimated 299,010 new cases of prostate cancer are expected in the United States in 2024, with the disease expected to claim 35,250 lives this year, according to data from The American Cancer Society (ACS).
About one in eight men will be diagnosed during their lifetime, according to the ACS.
Risks vary based on a multitude of factors, including age, race/ethnicity and family history.
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Although cases of prostate cancer dipped significantly between 2007 and 2014, they began to rise again starting in 2014, increasing by 3% per year overall, the ACS noted.
The disease is more prevalent in older men, with the average age of diagnosis at about 67.
4 myths and misconceptions
Four common myths can delay prostate screenings and treatments, said Dr. Timothy Showalter, radiation oncologist and chief medical officer at ArteraAI in California.
He detailed them in comments to Fox News Digital.
Myth No. 1: Prostate cancer screening is not effective
Prostate cancer screening guidelines have changed over the past couple of decades.
Some physicians and organizations have discouraged screening with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, citing the lack of a survival benefit from screening and the risk of overtreatment, Showalter noted.
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“However, PSA screening is an effective option to identify cancers at an earlier stage, when a cure is more likely and less intensive treatments can be used,” he told Fox News Digital.
The ACS recommends prostate cancer screening using the PSA blood test beginning at age 50, or earlier for men with risk factors.
About one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
“I encourage men to talk to their primary doctor about prostate cancer screening at their annual physical,” said Showalter.
Myth No. 2: Prostate cancer always causes urinary symptoms
“Most prostate cancers never cause urinary difficulty such as frequency or urgency, and are diagnosed based upon a rising PSA level detected through regular testing,” said Showalter.
Urinary symptoms are more commonly associated with noncancerous conditions, such as prostatitis or benign prostate hypertrophy, the doctor noted.
“It’s therefore important to consider PSA screening, even in the absence of urinary symptoms,” he added.
Myth No. 3: All prostate cancers have to be treated right away
There is a wide range of levels of prostate cancer, from benign cancers that can be safely observed without treatment to aggressive cancers that require a combination of treatment approaches, including surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and/or chemotherapy, according to Showalter.
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“For men with low-grade cancers, active surveillance may be preferred over surgery or radiation therapy to avoid the risks of treatment in cases at low risk of progression,” he told Fox News Digital.
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“New tests like the ArteraAI Prostate Test provide physicians with a tool to help patients choose the optimal treatment option for their cancer,” the doctor added.
As each case of prostate cancer is different, Showalter stressed the importance of seeking the advice of specialists from each discipline, including urology, radiation oncology and medical oncology.
Myth No. 4: After prostate cancer treatment, a man’s sex life is over
“Sexuality is understandably a top priority for many men facing prostate cancer and their partners,” said Showalter.
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“It’s important to know that sexual function continues after treatment for most men, and there are many effective medical and surgical interventions available to help if needed.”
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