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MY PROSTATE CANCER.
I call it mine, because until I discovered I had it, I thought it was the same for everyone who developed the disease.
How wrong can you be? I discovered that there is nothing simple about this type of cancer, from symptoms to diagnosis and treatment, It's different for everyone.
I will complete a diary of events for posterity, and if, when you read it, you are prompted to seek medical advice earlier than you would otherwise have done, then I will consider it to have been of some use.
I will state at the outset, with the benefit of my experience, that I do not think it's a good idea, to ask for a PSA screening test for this type of cancer. There are too many grey area's in diagnosis. (PSA = Prostate Specific Antigens, a protein produced by prostate cells).
Prostate cancer usually affects men over 50. It differs from most other cancers, because small areas of cancer within the prostate are very common and may remain unchanged for some time before they begin to grow. About one third of men over 50 have some cancer cells within their prostate and nearly all men over the age of 80 will have a small area of prostate cancer. These cancers can grow very slowly and so, may never cause any problems. In other cases the cancer can grow more quickly and may spread to other parts of the body. (info from CancerBACUP publication. See links page).
The difficulty is, that if you go for a PSA screening test, without any other symptoms, you may well reveal a raised PSA level, confirming the possible presence of prostate cancer. This may be a slow growing variety which may well never affect you in your normal life time, or, you might not have any cancer cells in the prostate at all. (For every 100 men with a raised PSA level, only about 30 have cancer cells in the prostate gland, and in up to a third of men the PSA may be normal even though there is cancer there). Knowing that it may be there, can you ignore it until some time in the future, when you might develop associated symptoms, warranting further investigation, or do you start the further investigations now, to be on the safe side. You might well go through all the risks, side effects and trauma of such a course of action, for something that might never have affected you. It's a brave man who can make an informed decision either way. Sometimes I think that ignorance is bliss. However, If you have any doubts or symptoms which cause you any concern, you would be well advised not to ignore them, and to act upon them without delay.
You can see the stages of diagnosis, and time scales relevant to my circumstances, on the following pages.