Health Check A-Z
'I had prostate cancer'
He was unaware that a family history of prostate cancer put him at a higher risk than other men. Both his grandfathers had prostate problems, and his grandfather on his mother's side died from it.
Other factors, such as age and African or African-Caribbean ethnicity, are known to increase the chance of developing prostate cancer. Black men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men. Researchers are looking at what may be the cause of this increased risk but genes probably play an important role.
Philip was 48 when he was diagnosed. “I considered myself to be very fit,” he says. “I thought I lived a healthy lifestyle. To be honest, I thought I was untouchable.”
It was only when he saw a programme on prostate cancer and prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests that he thought he could be affected.
Testing for prostate cancer
As Debbie Clayton from Prostate Cancer UK explains, early prostate cancer often doesn't cause any symptoms.
PSA is a protein that the prostate produces. The PSA test is not a test for prostate cancer, says Debbie. Rather, it indicates a potential problem with the prostate gland.
Philip was told at his first appointment that everything appeared normal, but when he went back after three months his PSA level was slightly raised. He was then referred to hospital for further tests, but they did not find anything to cause concern.
Philip knew that PSA tests could not always identify prostate cancer. After speaking to a consultant, he had a biopsy, which finally confirmed that he had an aggressive prostate cancer.
“The good news was that they'd found it. The bad news was that it turned out to be the worst kind, but it was in an early stage,” he said. “Still, the ‘C’ word was a shock, even though I was prepared for the worst. I'd done my homework and had as much information in advance as possible about the disease. But the moment they tell you, your head goes blank.”
Asking questions is a good way of getting back in control of your situation, says Debbie. In Philip's case, the specialist nurse at his hospital gave him a list of questions to ask his doctor.
Philip opted for robotic treatment, where a robot assists the surgeon in removing the whole prostate gland. Prostate cancer is often treatable and, if found early, can be successfully controlled.
After treatment, Philip's blood tests showed no signs of prostate cancer. He coaches young people in athletics, and his future plans include raising awareness of prostate cancer and supporting the hospital in which he had his treatment.
Healthtalkonline has articles and videos of people talking about having prostate cancer.