My Prostate Cancer - The Story of a Template Mapping Prostate Biopsy

Raised PSA and Prostate Cancer - My Story

Monday, October 13th 2014

A few years back I wrote one of my first articles, about angina, which told the story of what happened to me when I discovered I had angina, and how things worked out for me. To this day, that hub has proved to be a massive source of interest with people and, I believe, it has helped lots of people who have had to face the same situation.

So now it is time for another potentially difficult subject.

Prostate cancer.

Two weekends ago our local Lions club had a screening day, where a consultant and several phlebotomists gave up their Saturday morning at the local church hall to provide blood tests for men to be screened for Prostate cancer.

That was 10 days ago.

Today I received my result in the post.

My reading is 6.46 and the ‘normal’ reading for a man of my age (58) should be no more than 3-4.

When you look at it that way, 6.46 seems high and is a reading more commonly associated with a man of 70+

The results letter says I should contact my GP for further tests and to see if I should be referred to a specialist.

It looks as if, one way or another, this is going to drag on for a while and so I decided I would turn this experience into a hub also.

One day, once this hub is published, it may be that another man or his wife or his children are faced with the same situation I am faced with today and they may well want to know what happens from day one.

So, here it is:

Day 1:

As soon as I saw the ‘Lions’ headed envelope I knew that what the envelope held inside would be emotive one way or another. Naturally I had hoped it would be the good news which said my PSA level was below 3 and no further action was needed.

Sadly it was the other situation. The ‘raised PSA situation’ I had been dreading.

So now I have to book an appointment with my GP and then, I assume he or she will put their finger up my backside and then tell me whether or not further investigation is needed. Pleasant thought!

I have not told my wife. Her father has just been diagnosed with kidney cancer which, although it is entirely contained within the kidney, which will be removed in a few weeks and after that he should be as right as rain, I still cannot face burdening her with another worry on top of the one she already has.

So, this will be something I will live with alone, for the time being, until I know more.

Maybe that is where this hub comes into it. At least it gives me the chance to ‘talk about’ what is going on.

Funnily enough, I don’t feel afraid at all. I suppose I feel a bit lost right now because I have no idea what happens next, apart from a trip to the GP, which I am trying to arrange without my wife knowing, which means trying to get an after work appointment and then lying to my wife that I will be a little bit late that day due to a meeting after work!

I feel fine, too. I played an extremely punishing game of badminton yesterday against my 29 year old son and, as usual, I lost 6 – 0 but that is due to the fact that he is a superb badminton player, whereas as I am a novice. Physically, though, I give him as good as he gives me.

I was body boarding only a few weeks ago and in general, I am as healthy and as fit as I have been at any time in the past 10 years.

That’s the thing, I suppose. Things like cancer don’t ask questions about how well or how fit you are. It doesn’t discriminate in any way at all. It picks on the strong just as prolifically as the weak.

All the online articles say that in 70% of cases, a raised PSA level does not reveal prostate cancer but instead, some other non cancerous anomaly. That gives me very acceptable odds, which encourage me.

So, a 30% chance that I have cancer and a 70% chance that I don’t.

Same odds that my uncle faced when he found out he had prostate cancer too, 7 years ago.

He died in July.

So, the hereditary element now comes into play, too.

Already I have found myself starting to think about what I will do if it IS cancer. I am already weighing up the financial pros and cons of my life insurance policy that contains a benefit to pay out on diagnosis of a terminal illness, plus early retirement and drawing on my lump sum.

How to make sure the house is paid off before I die. How, what, where, when . . . .

Good gracious, all I have right now is a slightly raised PSA level and yet here I am heading at breakneck speed along undertaker highway!

I am definitely aware of a feeling that I have long held, which is that if this ever happened, I very much need to show my children (aged 25 – 33) how to handle adversity and how to handle death with courage and dignity. So they are very much in my mind now.

Then there is my wife who (you may have read in another of my hubs) has chronic pancreatitis, given to her by a negligent NHS surgeon whilst performing a routine day procedure, during which he mistakenly biopsied her bowel 3 times and then, 48 hours later, when she was nearly dead with near 100% organ failure, septicaemia and peritonitis and having been totally ignored by some of the NHS’ wonderful nurses, it was left to another surgeon to perform emergency surgery.

That was 5 years ago and my wife has never fully recovered. Nor will she ever fully recover in the future.

She relies on me so much. She always jokes that I HAVE to outlive her because “Who else is there to look after me and take care of me when I am sick?”

How do I handle that???

How do I deal with her fear of not only losing me but of also having no one to look after her when she goes through one of her frequent attacks of pain?

I suppose the only way of dealing with that is to make sure I live.

That means, if it IS cancer, fighting hard and fighting fast.

I have a promise to the most special little girl in the world. My granddaughter, Holly.

She is 3 in a few weeks and she was born at 24 weeks and 3 days (another hub to be written) and my goodness me, did she have to fight to stay alive.

Thankfully, against all odds, she is perfect. No disabilities or problems whatsoever. There was a 9.2% chance that she would live AND not suffer any disabilities of any kind.

So, my 70% chance is a hell of a lot better than her 9.2% and I have PROMISED I will be there for her 18th birthday. It is a promise I have made to myself.

It is a promise I am going to keep.

That’s it. End of day one.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

It has been a strange couple of days. As you might imagine, my attitude or mentality has varied greatly. I have been reading a lot about prostate cancer and today I finally decided to see a doctor.

What a waste of time THAT was!!

Young, female doctor. Probably very early in her career. Can’t be more than late 20s to 30ish.

I showed her my letter from the Lions’ urological consultant and she just smiled and said “we keep telling the Lions about this every year but they still keep doing the tests even though we ask them not to”

So, that was it. I turn up worried that I might have early stages of cancer and all this young lady upstart can do is smile??

She rattled on about how they shouldn’t do these test without counselling people beforehand and she went on and on.

Then she abandoned what I had made an appointment for, the small matter of cancer, to talk about my sleeping tablets and why they were being cancelled!

You would think that a doctor would realise a person is wracked with worry at discovering that their PSA score was abnormal and attempt to talk and listen and counsel?

Not one bit of it.

In the end I managed to get her to agree to repeat the PSA test on Friday next week, when I have a routine blood test booked.

She refused to even acknowledge the test result I already had, because it had not been processed by her surgery.

So, I now have to wait for 10 days for my blood test and then a week after that for the results.

That makes two and a half weeks of further worry and anxiety.

My advice to anyone reading this would be:

1. If you have a regular GP who you know, definitely see that person

2. See a male GP if at all possible

Sadly, my own GP retired recently and since then I have had to see different doctors if I have needed a GP. How I wish I had my old GP back.


November 16th 2014

Well, I saw a different GP, who is the GP my wife sees and she was splendid. Just as you would hope a doctor would be. Understanding, concerned but practical also.

She said my second blood test had been returned with a reading of 5.15 so, lower than my previous reading but still abnormal. She immediately entered me into the NHS cancer alert program which means I will have to be seen by a consultant in 2 weeks or less.

She also very kindly put on a rubber glove, lubricated a finger and inserted it into my bottom! Now, it’s not every day that you receive THAT level of service from the NHS!

She was doing a DRE (digital rectal examination) after which she said she could feel no lumps or bumps and that my prostate felt soft, normal and about the right size, as far as she was aware.

So, at the moment I am taking that as good news. Or at least I am taking it as positive in the sense it is an absence of bad news.

I told my wife, that weekend, so that was a week ago.

Understandably there were the expected tears but since then, I think my own positivity has rubbed off and she is now fine. I haven’t told anyone else, especially not my children. They are all adults now but I don’t want to tell them until there is something to actually tell them about.

If it turns out that I have a problem of some description then I will tell them. Otherwise, I will not. I have no intention of causing them to worry needlessly, especially with Christmas on the way.

I had to tell my boss because I am going to be taking time off from work for a while, such as next Friday to see the consultant, and then I expect there will be other days when I have to go for tests and so on.

I think my own mentality is quite good right now.

Over the past 4 weeks I have been through a range of emotions and mental states.

I recall one evening when I was just on my way into the house after work and I suddenly thought “Oh god, I am going to die”

This was countered by a little voice in my head saying “So . . .you thought you were immortal and that you were going to live forever?”

I think the point of that little mental exchange was that, of course, we are all going to die but we just never seem to have to face up to it until something happens. In my case, something has happened now which may or may not be cancer. Either way, though, it has reminded me that we are all mortal and one day, we ARE going to die.

For me, this raised PSA reading has just been a little nudge. I consider myself lucky, too.

I know that some people would receive the news of raised PSA levels and the possibility of cancer as the end of the world as they know it, but for me, it is a bit of a nudge and an early warning.

I now have the chance to do something about whatever is wrong.

If I DO have cancer, then it must be in its early stages and is hopefully at the point where something can be done about it.

If I had never gone for that screening test, then if I do have a few rogue cancerous cells, over the years they would have grown until, one day in the future, years from now, the symptoms had become so bad that I went for tests and by that stage, I may have developed cancer of the prostate which was so far advanced that little could be done about it.

So, yes, I am glad about this situation. Better now, when it is easily treatable than in 10 years from now when someone is saying “If only we had found this 10 years ago . . . . . . . .”

Anyway, it may well turn out to be an innocent and non cancerous problem.

I am seeing the urology consultant next Friday, so, hopefully I will find out a little more then.

I have started to keep a diary of when I urinate and how long for and on occasions, I use a measuring jug to record the volume of urine when I go. I always think it is best to go armed with as much information as possible when seeing a consultant, in order to speed things up and help him to arrive at a conclusion sooner rather than later.


November 21st 2014

Today was the day I saw the urology consultant for the first time. Nice man who began by saying “I want to put your mind at ease and reassure you” which was a relaxing sort of way to start our session.

I was with him for about half an hour and during that time he explained that, in a man of my age, a reading of 5 and a bit is only very slightly raised and quite different from someone whose PSA reading is in the hundreds or thousands.

We talked about why a PSA level in a man of 58 would be abnormal and he said “your reading is only slightly abnormal and would probably be typical for most men of your age.” He went on to say that although a reading below 4 is ideal, it is like most readings for anything. There is an ideal, perfect range within an ideal, model body, but very few people are like that.

He gave my prostate a very thorough examination and said that it felt very small, just as it should be and perfectly smooth and that, in all respects, it felt completely normal.

He explained that Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) can only examine one half of the prostate gland but that what he could feel felt exactly as it should.

At this point, men, you may not like the idea of some strange bloke sticking a gloved, lubricated finger up your backside but there really is nothing to it. It lasted a minute or two, wasn’t painful or uncomfortable and not at all embarrassing.

So, if you are in this situation and worrying about that; Don’t! Just do it.

Anyway, he said they will send me for an MRI scan in the next 2 weeks to see if there are any shadows on the prostate. Apparently, on the Tuesday after the scans each week, the whole cancer team review the scans together and arrive at a conclusion.

If my scan shows anything they don’t like the look of, they will write and arrange for a biopsy.

If the scan is clear, we agreed that they will then see me every 3-4 months for a regular series of PSA tests and follow up chats and just monitor. They call it ‘watchful waiting’.

I am quite happy with that, as I have no wish for a biopsy or anything surgical if it is not absolutely necessary.

I talked to him about the fact I have private medical insurance, through BUPA. I felt that I was unlikely to get an MRI scan in less than 2 weeks privately so I would stay with the NHS for this stage of things.

If I needed any form of treatment other than regular blood tests, I would then switch to private treatment, simply because the level of care in private hospitals is so much better than on an NHS ward.

I may even go for a second opinion, once the MRI results are through.

So, I will make my next diary entry once I have had the scan.

December 5th 2014

Well, I had the scan yesterday, just under 2 weeks since I saw the consultant. The scan lasted about half an hour and I didn’t really enjoy it, but not for claustrophobic reasons.

A medical questionnaire accompanied my appointment letter and one of the questions involved stents. As I have one, I had to call the hospital and talk to them.

After a short conversation with a radiologist, I was told the MRI scan would be fine with my stent.

Then, when I arrived for the scan I was questioned again about my stent. The staff checked my records to find out what type of stent I had and then told me it was plastic, so I would be ok to have the scan.

In I went. I was asked if I wanted to go into the scanner head first or feet first. I chose head first.

They put a large device, like a very big tray, over my pelvic area and asked me I wanted headphones on, due to the noise the scanner makes. I went for the headphones option.

The next 25-30 minutes were all noise and vibration. Rather a weird array of different sounds, all of which were like someone using power tools, accompanied by a range of different vibration types.

The trouble was that I started thinking about the stent. “What if the NHS have made an error?” I thought.

I know from past experience that the NHS are not particularly efficient and I suddenly became worried. “What if my stent is a metal one and they recorded the wrong type on my records? What if it IS metal and all this magnetism affects it or dislodges it?”

And so the thoughts went, for the next 15 – 20 minutes. I was fine with the actual scanner and the scanning process. Quite harmless, albeit boring and noisy.

The trouble was that I was becoming more and more preoccupied with this damned stent and the thought that I could have a heart attack if it became dislodged by the magnetism.

Anyway, I didn’t have a heart attack and eventually it was all done.

Apparently it will take up to two weeks for me to receive a letter with the outcome.

Then, one day I will come home and see the most dreaded letter of my life. Opening that letter is going to be a massive thing.

Either I open it and it says ‘Season’s greetings from the NHS. Congratulations, your scan was clear. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’

Or, I am going to get a very unwanted Christmas surprise.

For the first time since all this began I am starting to feel apprehensive or ‘scared’. This is all starting to occupy my mind more and more. Either I have cancer, or I don’t and right now, there is a scan result, somewhere in the hospital computer system, that knows the answer.

I just have to wait and I think this is, without doubt, going to be the longest wait of my life.

I don’t want to have cancer. I don’t want to go through the nightmare of the treatment. I don’t want to find out that I have something which might kill me. What if it turns out that I have lots of shadows on my prostate? What if I have been fooling myself and, in spite of a barely raised PSA level, I actually have a bad case of prostate cancer?

The thing I am most scared of is telling my family. My children.

How does one find the words to say to your children, who are all in the middle of great lives and wonderful futures “Sorry to interrupt your happy lives, but I am afraid your Dad has cancer”

I just don’t want to say the words to them. They don’t deserve that. It would crucify them and wreck the lives they are just starting to build.

I also don’t want to be absent from their futures and from my grandchildren growing up.

I want to be part of every minute, in a healthy, strong, fit way.

I am afraid, for them. Not for me.

We are planning our summer holiday for next year. A nice cottage right by the beach, in Trevone bay, near Padstow. What if I am sick by then? What if the holiday we had this year, in Appledore and Westward Ho! Was our last one together?

What if this Christmas is my last one?

Then again, if it isn’t cancer, then there need be none of those fears.

I pray to the almighty god, every day, that I don’t have cancer. I pray and ask him to let me be there for my children and my grandchildren, until my grandchildren become adults.

I pray for forgiveness and mercy. I really, really hope god is listening and that he is in a good mood!

I suppose my next entry will be the ‘big one’. It will either signal the end of this diary or merely the start of a new, long chapter.

Amen.

Friday, December 12th 2014

Well, today was the day. I went to see my GP. When my wife saw her earlier this week, she told her that she could access my hospital scan result for me.

It took her a couple of minutes but then she got the result up on screen.

Not the ‘all clear’ I was hoping for.

She said that most of the report was written in radiologist language which meant nothing to her but the summary was clear. Slightly enlarged prostate with 2 small nodules which should be investigated further, by biopsy.

So, I am still no further forward, really. I have no idea if I have cancer. All I do know is that there is some sort of problem with my prostate gland. And I need a biopsy, which I was hoping to avoid, due to the possibility of infection.

When I said to her “I want a referral to a private consultant who is excellent, this is where the NHS and me part company” she was mortified.

She knows that my wife had severe problems with the NHS and, ironically, a biopsy. She very nearly died and following a routine 30 minute procedure, she was in hospital for nearly 6 weeks and suffers poor health now (and always will) 6 years later.

She said “I know what you went through with your wife, but please, I ask you, do not leave the NHS. Do not go private for this. You are better off inside the NHS for cancer treatment”

I explained that it was the not the capability of the surgical staff that concerned me, but the low quality nursing staff in the NHS and the awful after care they provide in their horrid wards.

Anyway, she did my referral letter.

Now, however, I am having second thoughts. Why was she SO insistent that I stay in the NHS? With all their budgetary and funding problems you would think they would be glad to get someone such as a potentially costly cancer patient off their hands. Let the private medical insurance pay.

Maybe she was so concerned about me leaving the NHS because the NHS actually IS the best place for me?

I went home and my wife and me talked it over. In the end we decided not to decide anything just yet.

I am going to get a private referral to see the consultant of my choice and talk the whole issue through with him. See what he says about private vs NHS. See what his overall view and opinions are and what recommendations he comes up with.

Whatever the decision, I will be doing nothing before Christmas. There is no way I am telling my children before Christmas and having this looming over us all. My youngest son moved into a new house last week and he is so looking forward to the first Christmas there with his fiancé. My youngest daughter and her husband are so looking forward to Christmas with their new baby, who is 6 months old and their eldest, who is three.

No way they are having their idyllic, dream Christmases ruined by this. I will tell them in the New year, once I have made my decisions about treatment options etc . . . .

So, this is most definitely going to roll on into 2015.

Well, my mind is strong again now. I have got through the self indulgent, self pitying stage. I am now at the stage of thinking “I am not sick until someone actually TELLS me, beyond doubt that, medically, I am sick. And I am NOT going to die until someone actually TELLS me that, medically, I have only a limited time left and will die”

Until those things happen, there is nothing wrong with me, until somebody proves otherwise.

Friday, December 19th 2014

I went to see a private consultant today. Alan Doherty, at the BMI Priory in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Before making a decision about whether to be treated privately or on the NHS I decided to have a second opinion, independently.

It cost £250 but was worth the money.

We discussed the MRI scan report and he gave me a second biopsy option, which was to perform a prostate mapping biopsy instead of the standard transrectal biopsy.

It seems that the difference is that the prostate mapping biopsy, due to the angle of approach to the prostate, is more likely to find cancerous cells, if there are any. Whereas the traditional transrectal biopsy, whilst described as a ‘targeted’ biopsy, is really a hit and miss affair.

Having previously researched the different biopsy options I was already aware of this and so was pleased he suggested it.

The main difference is that entry is via the skin under the scrotum instead of through the anal passage, which reduces the chances of infection and other problems afterwards. Apparently there is still a small risk of infection but much less of a risk. There is also the possibility of some discomfort in sitting down, for a few days afterwards.

Also, the mapping biopsy is performed under general anaesthetic, which means I don’t have to suffer the discomfort of the biopsy. Just go to sleep and then wake back up when it is all done. And it also incorporates a 3D ultrasound scan of the prostate.

So, now I am waiting for the GP to send the medical record form to BUPA in order to get authorisation for the private treatment. I imagine that as it is all being done over the holiday period there will be a small delay.


Tuesday, January 13th 2015

My GP’s surgery sent the medical history form to BUPA on January 7th. Cost me £35. Then, the following day, Bupa called me with the authorisation numbers I need for the private hospital. I then called the consultant’s secretary who has me booked in for 7am on January 27th.

So, that is it now. I just have to wait until the 27th and then . . . . go and be biopsied.


Wednesday, January 28th 2015

Well, I had the biopsy yesterday and it seemed to go well. Let me tell you about my day.

Arrived at the BMI Priory Hospital, in Edgbaston, Birmingham at 7am. My son took me and my wife (he didn’t trust his Mum’s driving to bring me home!) then he went off to work until I was ready to be collected.

We were greeted at reception and seated, then, about 15 minutes later, a nice gentleman (sort of like an usher in the theatre) took us to my room. Nice room. En-suite, TV.

There followed, over the next couple of hours various tests and checks. They took blood to check liver and kidney functions and checked all my personal health and other details about 3 times.

About 10am changed into a theatre gown. Then the consultant came to see me and just ran through how I was feeling and not to worry and he would see me in about a week with the results. He told me the name of the anaesthetist and then, off he went.

About 11am the anaesthetist arrived. Nice man. Explained exactly what would happen next and when I asked him when I would be taken down, he said “in about 2-3 minutes!”

A very nice anaesthetist nurse arrived and we walked to the the anaesthetist room. There was a very pleasant assistant anaesthetist there too. They made me comfortable and we chatted. They made me feel relaxed.

In went the canula. They checked all my details again and then, the anaesthetist arrived.

He connected a tube to the canula and said “we will put the oxygen mask on you now and then you will feel a nice sensation and the next thing you will know is when we wake you up”

They placed the oxygen mask on my face, I felt a pleasant sensation flooding through me from the anaesthetic in the tube and within 2-3 seconds, I would say, I remember no more until it was all over and I woke up!

I went down at about 11.20 and I would say that the anaesthetic was given at about 11.35. I came round at about 1pm so it was about an hour and a half, in total.

The anaesthetist said it took longer for me to wake than usual, about 20 minutes.

Then, once they had done their checks and made sure I was ok, they took me back to my room. This time, wheeling me on my bed.

Over the next hour and a half I had lunch (soup, bacon sandwich and then ice cream which I ordered earlier in the morning) and lots of water and tea. I was SO thirsty.

I had last had a drink (black coffee and a glass of water) at 6am, so it was now nearly eight hours and I was THIRSTY.

Then, about half an hour later I had a wee. That was what needed to happen in order for me to be discharged.

It stung. The first 50% was blood and then it was urine. But I had had a wee!

They said that for the first few days there would be blood in the urine so I wasn’t bothered by that. The stinging was uncomfortable. I suspect that was because of the catheter they had put in during the biopsy.

I had another wee about half an hour after that and then the nurse did my discharge notes.

They gave me 2 lots of antibiotics which I have to take for 5 days. In total, 10 tablets each day. It is a powerful dosage but they want make sure there is minimal risk of infection so they give a powerful dosage.

I left hospital around 3.20pm and was home by 4pm, courtesy of my son’s careful and considerate driving.

Once home, I was urinating every 30-60 minutes. Same as before. Some blood at the start and then urine. Still stinging when I passed urine. That bothered me by evening. Not because it was terribly painful. It wasn’t. It stung, that’s all, but I was worried that it might be a sign of infection.

Anyway, I had dinner. Fish and chips with my two sons while we watched live football on TV.

Went to bed about 10.30pm.

Had a sleeping tablet but for the third night I hardly slept. The previous two nights I put down to anxiety and having the procedure but I fully expected to sleep like a log last night.

But I just didn’t. Finally, I got off at about 2am and then woke at 5am.

I think the stinging urine was on my mind and the thoughts that maybe something wasn’t right.

Today, I finally got up at 7am. Had my first pee. Still stung but nowhere near as much as yesterday and then, during the day, I have urinated about every 2-3 hours. Less blood, more urine and the last time I went to the toilet, about 5pm, there was no stinging at all.

That is a relief. Things seem to be back to normal.

I was expecting pain or discomfort from the area where they inserted the probe in my anus and then shot 30-50 needles through my scrotum into my prostate but there has been none.

I had a nice warm bath this morning and removed the pad they had placed over the area and then had a look with a mirror. Some signs of bruising but no pain at all.

So, all in all, things seem to have gone well. Now, though, comes the worst part. The result.

One thing to mention, though, which may be of help to anyone who has just gone through a similar procedure is urinating afterwards.

In my case, I still had a little blood in my urine for nearly three weeks after the biopsy. For the first few days it was probably a teaspoon full, although it looks a lot more at the time! This would be right at the start, every time I urinated and then, after a second, the urine would be a normal colour.

After about a week to ten days, this changed in colour to a brown colour, which I believe is a sign of older blood. Then the amount grew less and less.

Three weeks to the day after I had my biopsy the blood finally stopped completely.

The consultant said that, with 54 needles puncturing the prostate, it was perfectly normal for there to be blood in the urine for a few weeks afterwards.

Also, I found that the 'flow' and frequency was quite variable for the first three weeks.

I have no idea how the more conventional biopsy that the NHS generally use compares, in terms of blood in the urine and flow rate afterwards, but, from talking to the consultant, it would appear that my 'after effects' were quite normal.

I have to arrange an appointment for a week or so from now to get my result.

That appointment will mark a defining day in my life. Maybe THE defining day, as far as the rest of my life is concerned!

Monday, February 9th 2014

Today was the day I found out that I DO NOT HAVE CANCER!

I went so see the consultant this morning, at 8.15 and it was a day I was not looking forward to. Not one bit.

However, as soon as I went in and he had asked how I was feeling now, he quickly followed that question with a smile and said “Let’s tell you the bit you have come here to find out. Your results were completely clear”

I just sat and smiled. Said nothing at first. Just smiled. Then I said “Thank you very much. That is wonderful news. Such a relief”

He then went on to say he had taken a total of 54 samples. “That’s a lot of needles” he said “I am really pleased and pleasantly surprised that you didn’t experience any pain or discomfort afterwards because that is probably the biggest sample I have ever taken”

He told me that the every sample showed negative and the ultrasound was clear and that, as my prostate weighed about 50g, as opposed to the typical 30, it was generally the case that the PSA level would rise by about 1 per 10g, making a reading of 5-6 quite normal.

He suggested I have a blood test annually just to keep an eye on things but that he had no concerns at all and that I could expect my PSA level to go up and down as I get older and unless it were to reach 10 or above I should not worry.

He also said that as my prostate had enlarged purely due to ageing, I might well see him again in a few years when it grows large enough that it causes me urinary problems, but, he said that is just normal male ageing for you!

And with that, we shook hands and I left.

At this point I should say that I am glad I had medical insurance and was able to have the biopsy done privately. The biopsy, a guided template mapping biopsy, is a very thorough, advanced biopsy and gave a level of accuracy and certainty about my result that has answered any doubts, without room for question or doubt.

So, I hope that, having read this account, this diary of my prostate biopsy, PSA tests and general worries and concerns about cancer, you now realise that a raised PSA does not mean cancer.

This has been an incredible four month journey which has had highs and lows, ups and downs, and which has tested my mental resolve, at times but one which, thankfully, has a happy ending.


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