Since posting my previous blog giving details of a number of events and publications in which I’m due to be involved in this current new year – and sending out an email with the same information – I’ve had quite a few enquiries about the current state of my health, many expressing the hopeful assumption that this projected activity means things have improved. As indeed they have.
To recap [new readers, as they say, start here] I was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer toward the end of 2017 and most of 2018 was taken up by various forms of treatment at University College Hospital in central London: chemotherapy, high dose-rate brachytherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy. All of these have now finished, save for the hormone therapy, which is likely to continue for another year.
I was fortunate in that I managed to avoid the more serious of the possible side-effects from the various treatments, fatigue aside, and doubly fortunate in the quality of care I received from everyone at UCLH. At my most recent meeting with one of the consultants in charge of my case, she assured me that the treatments had rendered the cancer no longer active and that, in the case of aggressive cancers like mine, there was, statistically, a 30% chance of it returning. Odds that, in the circumstances, I’m happy to take.
Since I was diagnosed, I’ve been aware of quite large numbers of men who have been similarly diagnosed and whose treatment is ongoing or is now complete; in a good number of instances the treatment has been successful and the cancer has not returned.
Diagnosis – most usually now through an analysis of PSA (prostate specific antigen) through a simple blood test – is becoming more accurate, treatment more effective, and yet I still hear of men over the age of 60 who are refusing to be diagnosed or, even worse, denied this simple diagnostic test by their doctor on the grounds that it is fallible and inaccurate. If my GP hadn’t phoned me once she had seen my inflated PSA score in the results of my annual blood test and recommended making an appointment for me at UCLH, I would not have been diagnosed and treated so soon.
I beg you, if you’re male and over 60 and haven’t already been tested, please do so. You can find more details on the Prostate Cancer UK website. The worst that can happen is that it’s a false alarm and you will have wasted a relatively small amount of NHS time and money. The best, if you register positive, is that you will get the necessary treatment sooner rather than later.