Six Myths About Prostate Cancer Busted

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Last year, national TV and radio presenter Bill Turnbull turned the spotlight on prostate cancer when he announced he had been diagnosed with the disease. If you need any evidence for the good raising awareness can do, private healthcare provider Bupa saw a jump in bookings for its male health assessment the very next day.

With Turnbull’s documentary Staying Alive, which follows his search for effective treatment, airing on Channel 4 last night, it’s likely many people will be looking to get more information about prostate cancer – and they may also come across some of the common myths surrounding the disease. Myths help nobody when it comes to medical problems, so we asked Professor Hashim Ahmed, consultant urologist at Bupa Cromwell Hospital, and Dr Luke Powles, associate clinical director for Bupa Health Clinics, to set the record straight about some of these misconceptions.

1. Sitting With A Laptop On Your Lap Increases Your Chances Of Prostate Cancer

“There’s speculation that Wi-Fi can increase the risk of prostate cancer, but there is no evidence to suggest radio waves emitted from a laptop can cause prostate cancer,” says Powles. “It’s much more likely that the level of radio waves are too low to have any significant impact.”

2. If You Don’t Have Symptoms, You Don’t Have Prostate Cancer

“This is absolutely not true,” says Ahmed. “In fact, when prostate cancer is in the early stages it’s unlikely there will be any symptoms at all.

“Symptoms are likely to start when the cancer has spread to the bone. At this point, pain can be felt in the hips, back or pelvis, which may be confused with another problem such as arthritis. If you notice any symptoms, don’t panic, but see your GP as soon as possible.”

3. If You Can Pee Against A Wall From A Distance, You Don’t Have Prostate Cancer

“This is certainly not a tried and tested method of diagnosis!” says Ahmed. “Essentially, having a strong flow of urine when going to the toilet is normal, so if this changes and the flow of urine decreases over time then it is something to get checked with your GP.

“While we’re on the subject of toilet behaviour, an increased need to urinate, going to the toilet more often or getting up in the middle of the night for a wee can be signs of prostate cancer. If you are concerned about any of these symptoms it’s important to go and visit your GP.”

4. Having A Vasectomy Can Cause Prostate Cancer

“It was once believed that having a vasectomy increased a man’s risk of prostate cancer,” says Ahmed. “However, more recent research has proven that there is no definitive link between the two.

“A vasectomy requires your prostate to be checked, so having the procedure may mean prostate cancer is detected earlier by a urologist.”

5. Prostate Cancer Only Affects Men Over 70

“It’s a common misconception that only men over 70 can be diagnosed with prostate cancer,” says Powles, “but it’s something that younger men need to be aware of. While typically it’s diagnosed mostly in men aged 65 and older, there are cases of men being diagnosed in their 20s and 30s, although the disease is rare under the age of 50. What’s more, the condition is more likely to be aggressive in younger men, so it’s important that men of all ages are keeping an eye out for the symptoms.”

6. An Injury To Your Genitals Increases Your Chance Of Prostate Cancer

“While blunt trauma to the scrotum can certainly be painful, there is no research to prove the injury itself can increase risk of any form of cancer, prostate or otherwise,” says Powles.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.