After a query and ultrasound scan quite a few years ago, which I remember quite clearly because it was done at the maternity hospital along with the expectant mums, the normal facility being unavailable for some reason, I was told by the radiographer that I had an inoperable growth on my bladder. This was never followed up by my GP at the time but I was suffering increasingly from urgency, sometimes down to 15 minute intervals, extreme pain when needing to urinate, to the extent of hyperventilating, and a slow flow but assumed that was just the process of getting old although I was prescribed tamsulosin which did not appear to have any noticeable effect.
However, at the end of 2009 my doctor suggested a PSA blood test which showed a higher than normal reading of 5.4 so there was a strong likelihood that the prostate was cancerous. I can’t say that I was shocked, more like “OK, we have a problem so let’s deal with it”.
A biopsy and an MRI scan early in 2010 produced a Gleason scale reading of 7 (4+3) and an indication that there was no detectable spread of the cancer beyond the prostate.
So treatment was recommended, but what one? At the age of 64 with no other health issues all options were open so it was down to me to make the choice. That was the hard part.
I decided on a radical prostatectomy for several reasons: firstly it was an immediate “cure” unless something else showed up subsequently; secondly that if something did show up later then radiotherapy would be available whereas having radiotherapy first precluded surgery at a later date; thirdly that I did not want to risk being radioactive with a very young grandchild around; fourthly that I had enough service with my employers to be entitled to more than enough sick leave to recover.
So in April 2010 I went under Mr Lewi's knife at Colchester General Hospital, the first time in my life that I’d had major surgery.
Every operation produces different results in people. In my case after the operation I had very little pain from the operation site but had an allergic reaction to the plaster around the epidural site on my back plus a testicular infection. I’d never had an allergic reaction to anything before in my life. The infection required a course of antibiotics which cleared it up.
Half the staples in the wound site were removed in hospital, the rest in the follow-up clinic after returning home when the internal catheter was also removed. Unfortunately full bladder control was not re-established at this point (trust me to be one of the small percentage where this happens) so I had a sheath type catheter and a bag until it gradually came back to normal.
The operation has cured the slow flow, the urgency and the pain when my bladder was full, so my quality of life is immeasurably improved. As with virtually all prostate treatment there is some erectile dysfunction but that is a small price to pay for a new lease of life.
My PSA has been checked shortly after the operation and then at six monthly intervals at follow-up clinics at Broomfield and has remained at the “less than 0.04” or undetectable level ever since so it is fairly safe to presume that all the cancerous tissue was removed and I do not anticipate a return.
I resumed part time working remotely from home some three weeks after the operation and by the end of June was back at work, by train at first then back on the motorbike from Chelmsford to Fitzrovia and back each day.