For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, you can skip this first paragraph. I write this blog because knowledge is power and if you know what you are dealing with, you have more weapons in the locker to fight it. It is a personal view, I'm not medically qualified. This is for the sole purpose of information for those who are interested.This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life. For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 54years old and in October 2011 I had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gave me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I was put on a program of active monitoring. In early February, I got the results of the a PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing, two more tests in 2012 were at 3.5 and 3.9, in 2013 my test was 4.0, Jan 2014 was 3.8, August 2014 was 4.0, February 2015 it was up to 5.5 and my latest in August 2015 was down again at 4.6. In October 2015 I had a transperinial Prostate biopsy, that revealed higher grade cancer and my Gleason score was raised to 3+4 (Small mass + more aggressive cancer). On 22nd Jan 2016 I had HIFU (Hi Intensity Focused Ultrasound) treatment at UCHL). My post procedure PSA in May was 4.0 which was down, followed by 3.7 in August, and 3.5 in October which means that the direction is positive . However in January the follow up MRI revealed "something unusual which requires investigation" After a follow up biopsy, it appeared this was nothing to worry about. I've no symptoms apart from needing to wee quite regularly and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?
Since my last cancer blog, I've had two PSA tests (3.7 and 4.6) and an MRI scan in March. Today I went back for my two year(ish) consult to review the MRI results with the esteemed Professor Emberton at UCH. As is always the way, I felt rather stressed. Events around the Tichborne house this week have been a tad difficult all round, with my son hurting his knee at football last Thursday, trips to A&E etc. As my most recent PSA had gone up, I was expecting bad news.
I am pleased to announce that the news was not bad. In fact it was quite good. Mr Emberton informed me I can keep my prostate for another year. If anything my prostate looked better than last year. The raised PSA? He said "probably some non cancerous inflammation here" and pointed to a fuzzy area. In short, wheras two years ago I had a small, but aggressive cancer growing in my Prostate gland, now it appears I don't. The treatment worked.
Lets for a moment take a look at an alternative reality. Lets imagine for a second that back in September 2011, I hadn't hurt my knee playing football. Lets imagine that I hadn't seen Dr Cuttell at Millway Surgery and he hadn't said "at your age, it's good to have a 360 degree health check". Lets imagine that I hadn't been in to see the doctor about anything else. What would have happened. Well In 2011 on diagnosis, I made some lifelstyle changes. I've no idea whether these have helped slow the cancer, so lets assume that they have simply made me feel self righteous. What can we say for a fact. In 2011 with a Gleason score of 3+3, I was put on active surveillance. In 2016, I wouldn't have had Hi-Fu ultrasound treatment and the aggresive cancer wouldn't have been zapped. What would it have been doing by now? That again is intangible, but it is not unreasonable to assume that it would have grown. It may have spread. At no time have I had any symptoms. But lets just suppose that it had spread. Lets just suppose that it had got into my bones, as happens to many unfortunate men in the UK. Lets assume that I'd started peeing blood.
Today, maybe I'd be off to see Mr Emberton or one of his esteemed colleagues. What would he be saying? He may be saying something along the lines of "You have an incurable cancer. We can control it with drugs, which will massively affect your quality of life, but will extend your life". Or he may be saying "You need a radical Prostatectamy and there is a strong possibility of erectile dysfunction, impotence, infertility and incontinence". Both of those are things which I most likely would have heard today.
But I got checked, I've been monitored, so Mr Emberton simply said "It is looking good, see you in a year". Everything is fine, no symptoms.
To all my Male friends (and enemies). That is why you really should get checked out. I had no symptoms at all. For me, I have a couple of days every year stressing about "What if's" for the days before I see the honourable prof. I have too many friends who have a whole lot of different, more worrying things to stress over with regards to Prostate Cancer.
Do yourself a big favour and get it checked