In two previous columns, I wrote about prostate cancer and why men over 50 years old should consider making an appointment with their doctor to have their prostate checked.
I also said that they should consider whether or not they should have a blood test to determine their Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels, as this reading may indicate if there is a problem which, in turn, may lead to further action such as a biopsy.
Last month I was given my annual blood test at the surgery when I asked the nurse if my PSA level could be checked in addition to the routine monitoring of cholesterol levels etc, and this was carried out.
The only reason that I asked for this was on the advice of a friend who had been treated for prostate cancer after his test had shown his PSA level to be abnormally high.
On receipt of the test results the clinic asked me to make an appointment with the doctor to discuss matters. I duly did and was informed that my PSA level was abnormally high at 9.4 when it should have been around 4.5/5 and it was recommended that I should attend the Western General to undergo a biopsy.
I attended the hospital at 8am one morning and was out before lunchtime as the procedure is relatively simple and pain-free. Alasdair, who carried out the biopsy, told me that he would have the result in about a fortnight.
When I spoke to him last week he informed me that my prostate samples had tested positive for cancer and that an appointment would be made for me to have a scan (MRI) and a further meeting with a consultant to discuss the various methods of treatment on offer.
I had none of the usual symptoms at all, had no reason to suspect that anything was amiss and only asked that my PSA level be checked almost as an afterthought when I remembered the advice of a friend.
I had never had my prostate checked up to that point and successive GPs did not advise that I should do so – which I find rather perplexing as early diagnosis and treatment is key to a successful recovery. I have already advised that all men of a certain age should have theirs checked and that they should consider asking for a blood test to determine their PSA level.
As I stated previously, the Prostate Cancer Risk Management pack which is distributed to GPs states “any man over 50 who asks for a PSA test after careful consideration of the implications should be given one” so men in that age category should consider whether or not it is in their best interest and, if so, ask as the request should not be refused.
Prostate cancer affects one in ten men in Scotland and is the most common cancer among men, so a sizeable number of the population will come into contact with the disease. My only regret was telling the aforementioned Alasdair that I was a Jambo after he told me he was a Hibby as I was left wondering if he carried out the procedure with more gusto than was absolutely necessary!