The 7 Things I’ve Personally Learned about Prostate Cancer – Part One
Last November I wrote a post called “What’s a Guy to Do? http://ow.ly/oIljB regarding prostate cancer and the Movember movement in support of prostate cancer research. I had no idea that within a year I would be more closely associated with the subject than I really wanted to be.
You see, about 4 weeks ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
English: Micrograph of prostatic adenocarcinoma, conventional (acinar) type, the most common form of prostate cancer. Prostate biopsy. H&E stain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This certainly isn’t an “oh woe is me” post. In fact, now that I know I have cancer, it is actually a relief. Dumb statement huh? Let me explain.
- PSA Testing can be a benefit and a curse:
- I had my first PSA test in my early 50’s. My family physician at the time said to me, “You realize you may be committing to all the procedures that go along with a high PSA if it looks like you may have prostate cancer?” I dutifully replied that I understood without fully understanding I’m sure. Keep in mind that 10 years ago the PSA test was the gold standard to determine if a man may have prostate cancer. How times change in 10 years. As I said in the aforementioned post, with the controversy surrounding PSA and its validity in identifying aggressive cancer, a regular PSA is no longer de riguer. However, this test became my baseline for future tests. It’s now recommended that men get a baseline while they are in their 40’s.
- Just a reminder that a PSA test won’t show how virulent prostate cancer is and in fact a high PSA rating may not even mean the presence of cancer. It can simply mean that something not right may be going on in the prostate. Further examination is usually warranted.
- Over the past three years, I watched my PSA slowly and then not so slowly increase. In 18 months it nearly doubled. I walked into my doctor’s office after the last test in early June and she said, “You’re not going to be very happy with me but I’ve made a referral to Dr. C because I’m concerned about your PSA.” I’ve been to Dr. C, my urologist, for a spike of PSA in the past and he saw no need for any further investigation at that time. Having a man with fingers as long as my arm once again probing my nether regions didn’t hold much appeal. Regardless, I trust my FP. Besides being a great doctor she is a wonderful person. Plus, she hasn’t yet led me astray so off I went.
- I walked into Dr. C’s office and he said, “I think it’s time for a biopsy. Your PSA is getting a little high.” He already had the biopsy form and a prescription for antibiotics filled out.
- Since Linda and I had no idea what the results might be we cancelled a cruise in November that we were looking forward to. We hadn’t made the final payment and it was due before I would get my results. If I needed surgery or other treatment we couldn’t risk losing our money as travel insurance wouldn’t cover a “pre-existing condition”.
- The Biopsy wasn’t as Bad as I was Expecting:
- First, I wasn’t as worried about the biopsy as I thought I’d be. Linda said she was probably more concerned than I was.
- I wasn’t treated like a number or a piece of meat showing up for inspection. I was escorted to a private treatment room with its own bathroom. Bonus! The technician who welcomed me to the treatment room told me everything that was going to happen and what I should expect. The radiologist did the same and was more than willing to take as much time as needed to answer all my questions. Kudos to both of them.
- Perhaps I was fortunate but I got a radiologist who had a very deft touch with the local anesthetic. (I’ll let you look up the whole procedure). In our area, the urologists don’t do biopsies. They are done by doctors in the radiology, oops –Diagnostic Imaging Department, of our local hospital. Since our hospital is also the regional referral center for cancer diagnosis and treatment, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised the physicians are good at what they do.
- The biopsy needle caused little pain thanks to Dr. K’s anesthetic. The most disconcerting part was hearing the noise as the spring loaded contraption fired. Now if the good Dr. K had done a “Clear on the right! Clear on the left! Clear on the firing line! Fire!” I would have been a little worried.
- I had very little pain and it was easily managed with some extra strength Tylenol. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was uncomfortable for a few days and I wasn’t about to do a long bike ride (not that I ride a bike) but I’ve had dental work done that hurt more.
- Post biopsy infections are a bitch!
- One of the possible side effects of a prostate biopsy is getting a prostate infection. To try to mitigate the possibility, patients are required to take antibiotics starting the day of the biopsy and for two days after. But guess what? I got an infection anyway. After 3 weeks of high dose antibiotics, it looks like I have it beat.
- Note to self, the next time you get a hint of an infection, GO TO THE DOCTOR!
In the next post, I’ll tell you how I reacted to the diagnosis and the course of action that I have chosen.