|Red Hermit Crab, Dardanus megistos, Maldives 2008|
Recently I visited my GP and requested a PSA test and was asked why I wanted one. I replied that a brother had high PSA readings and had been monitored for some years, and I felt I needed one as my waterworks didn’t seem quite right. Blood was extracted and the results showed a higher than normal reading (4 is fine, 7.8 is regarded as too high) and I was given an appointment for a biopsy of the prostate. This was a not too bad, if undignified procedure. 12 tissue samples were taken, 6 from each side of the prostate. A few weeks later I was asked to see the specialist again (last Friday) when I was advised I had prostate cancer. The good news was that it was in its mildest state affecting the top of the prostate on both sides (Gleason score 6). One option is to do nothing and 28% of people who choose this find the cancer expands and treatment is then required during the next ten years. If I choose this option I will be monitored every 4 months (PSA levels checked, MRI scans) and if things get worse I would have to choose a course of treatment.
There are three treatment options (surgery; external beam radiotherapy; brachytherapy) each having its up and downsides. Having discussed this with Sue, we agree that I am not going to wait, but get treatment while I am still reasonably fit. So now I have to read the literature provided carefully and ask questions. My local health trust is teamed with Macmillan Cancer Support, and a nurse from MCS is my key worker who will answer questions and liaise with all the areas that are involved with my treatment. They are now one of my favourite charities! I am now waiting for an appointment with a surgeon to discuss treatment options.
Why am I making this public at this time? I have always been a believer in the principle of sharing knowledge and experiences. I hope that if any of my readers have experience of prostate cancer that they can share with me to aid my choice of treatment, they will feel free to do so via either Comments below or a private email (see "Contact me by email" option on the right of this post).
Also, I would like to get the subject out in the open so everyone knows and I don’t have to pussyfoot around the subject.
How do I feel about this development? It was hard to hear the news, even though I knew that the appointment meant there was something to tell me. However, I am fortunate that I know about it at an early stage, and that treatment options are available. Also that my NHS trust appears to be well organised in this area. I think I have absorbed the news now and hopefully I will be able to deal with treatment like other ailments I have had. Perhaps the hardest thing is the mental adjustment, but I am a pretty sanguine person and now I know where I stand, with Sue’s support and the strength I know will come from friends and family, I intend to carry on as normal, subject to the inconveniences of treatment ☺
Finally, I have always been proactive as far as medical matters are concerned and have never been backward about consulting my GP. My diagnosis has proved the value of this approach. I urge any man, especially in later years, who has any problems downstairs, to ask for a PSA test so that an early diagnosis can be made. Insist on it if you experience any resistance from your GP. I had no such problem, although I was asked why I wanted it.