Keep your eyes on the prize guys

The Panacea community is made up mostly of men, recent research would suggest 93% (as one would ‘kind’a expect) the age demographic is that 45% are within the 50-59 age group and 24% are over 60. And you may be at real risk of having or getting Prostate Cancer.

With this in mind, coupled with my very recent personal ‘up close and personal’ experience of the subject, I felt this was a good idea to do my little bit to create some awareness of something that at best can change your life and at very worst kill you, especially if you sit within this age demographic.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. Over 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. Over 250,000 men are currently living with the disease.

The majority of men with prostate cancer are aged over 60 years and the disease is very rare in men under 50. Research in the U.S shows that other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2014 are that:

  • About 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed
  • About 29,480 men will die of prostate cancer

The following, along with help from the internet, will I hope assist in understanding what it is, what symptoms to look out for, how it is detected and how it is treated.

Detection is of course the starting point for getting ‘sorted out’.

In my case, I had a BUPA medical in September last year and I was advised that following a fairly basic (I use that term advisedly) examination and questioning I was given a PSA test and told to consult a specialist as soon as possible.

But there is a problem with a PSA test (it is a blood test that measures the level of prostate-specific antigens) as results can be unreliable and this was explained to me, especially as my result was negative.

So off to the specialist I go. Although estimated life expectancy should figure prominently in treatment decisions, available data suggests that physician skill in this area is sometimes lacking, often leading to inappropriate treatment.

I was recommended to see consultant Chris Ogden, a top guy in this area it would seem. After looking at the BUPA data, he gave me another, far more detailed shall we say, ultra sound examination- an interesting ‘inner body experience’, and immediately informed me, with some quite graphc images, that my prostate was some three times the normal size. To allow him to understand more, an MRI scan was now needed.

A week later and with the scan done and clutching a CD copy of my very own, it was back to see Chris Ogden.

In my case the scan showed up some darkened areas that Chris said required further investigation- so now a transperineal prostate biopsybeckoned, deep joy.

Thankfully, I was ‘out to lunch’ for this having been given a general anesthesetic.

Now the most important thing with a biopsy is that a lot of samples are taken.

NHS procedures are normally conducted by way of a transrectal ultrasound-guided prostate biopsy that only take 10-12 samples and from what I have heard this may not be enough.

I had 30 samples taken by transperineal prostate biopsy, all in a day surgery, one hour or so procedure, at the Royal Marsden.

Ten days later and it is results time.

The news was very good, all clear and no sign of cancer cells. A short course of tablets is all that is needed and ‘normal service’ will be resumed.

So, the purpose of this highly personal blog is to highlight the fact that you guys, especially if you are over 50, reading this need to look out for the symptoms and get checked out now if any are showing.

The symptoms of growths in the prostate are similar whether they are non cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). The symptoms include

  •             Having to rush to the toilet to pass urine
  •             Passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
  •             Difficulty passing urine, including straining to pass it or stopping and starting
  •             A sense of not being able to completely empty the bladder
  •             Pain when passing urine
  •             Blood in the urine or semen

The last two symptoms – pain and bleeding – are very rare in prostate cancer. They are more often a symptom of non-cancerous prostate conditions.

If you have any of the above, there are no prizes for hoping they will go away as I can tell you they will not, and if left could end up killing you, get to see your doctor now.

If I can conclude by saying that for wives and partners this is a big worry for them, they do not suffer but do feel your pain while you are being investigated and especially if you are found to have a problem. It can be life changing for them too.

Give them some recognition for the support they give you in getting through this.

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