Prostate cancer: I'm living proof of the benefits of getting prostate checked despite having no symptoms – Steve Cardownie
On Monday morning I received the news that I was hoping for when Dr Aravindhan Sundaramurthy called from the Western General’s Department of Oncology.
He informed me that my latest blood test showed that my prostate specific antigen (PSA) level had dropped to 0.6 from 13.2 when I was first given brachytherapy treatment back in August 2018.
The insertion of small radioactive seeds into the prostate to kill off the cancerous tumour appears to have been successful and the good doctor informed me that “there are no signs of cancer in your body”.
I thank my lucky stars that I insisted on getting a blood test to ascertain my PSA level back in March of that year because, as I had no symptoms of prostate cancer, I shudder to think what might have happened if I left it too late.
PSA is a protein made only by the prostate gland. Some of it leaks into the blood, but how much depends on your age and the health of your prostate. The NHS website informs us that men aged between 50 to 69 have a raised PSA if it measures 3ng/ml or higher although it goes on to say that about three in four men with a raised PSA level will not have cancer and that the PSA test can miss about 15 per cent of cancers.
In my case, however, I am glad that I adopted a “better safe than sorry” attitude. I was diagnosed with cancer and I received my preferred treatment, after which, three years later, I can say that at the moment the signs are that I am cancer free.
Of course, it is up to each person to pursue a course of action that best befits their circumstances but all I can say is that I am glad that I pursued the course of action that I did.
So, in a cheerful mood, I made my way to the NHS vaccination centre at Ingliston to get my Covid booster and flu jab. Having heard some people opine that it was not safe to get both vaccines at the same time, I decided to investigate it more thoroughly before I proceeded.
However having trawled through several websites both here and abroad, I could find no evidence to support the claim that it was unsafe to get both so I decided to keep my appointment for the two jabs.
At the centre I was extremely impressed by the way staff dealt with the public – polite, efficient and always on hand to give advice. I was in and out in 50 minutes having had a painless jab administered in both arms. It could not have been simpler and from what I could see from the 100 or so people in the hall, it looked like they were being similarly treated.
Now, 24 hours later, I have had no side-effects whatsoever and can look forward to winter, safe in the knowledge that I have taken steps to ensure that I have the maximum protection possible against Covid-19 and the flu. While there is no guarantee that I will not contract either, there is no doubt in my mind that I am much safer having taken the jabs than not!