Keith Law was in his mid-60s when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015 after going to his GP for a health check-up.
Despite showing no symptoms, he was tested for prostate cancer using something called a PSA test. Mr Law said: “I was offered a PSA blood test and my results came back raised, so they wanted to do further checks.”
After further tests, two early-stage tumours were identified, and Mr Law underwent hormone injections and took hormone tablets to reduce the size of his prostate before eventually undergoing an LDR Brachytherapy procedure.
Brachytherapy is described by charity Prostate Cancer UK as: “A type of radiotherapy where tiny radioactive seeds are put into your prostate. Each radioactive seed is the size and shape of a grain of rice. The seeds stay in the prostate forever and give a steady dose of radiation over a few months.”
As the treatment progresses, says Prostate Cancer UK, the “radiation damages the prostate cells and stops them dividing and growing. The cancer cells can’t recover from this damage and die. But healthy cells can repair themselves more easily.
“The seeds release most of their radiation in the first three months after they’re put into the prostate. After around 8 to 10 months, almost all the radiation has been released”.
For those concerned about the impact of radioactive seeds, the charity adds: “The amount of radiation left in the seeds is so small that it doesn’t have an effect on your body. Permanent seed brachytherapy is as good at treating low risk localised prostate cancer as surgery or external beam radiotherapy.”
Mr Law’s experience was positive: “I had no pain, discomfort, bruising, redness or swelling – I didn’t even know they had done it! They sent me home shortly after and I was able to get back to normal life fairly quickly.”
When discussing how his life is several years after treatment, Mr Law said: “My quality of life remains very good, even following my procedure. I’m still able to do exactly what I want to do without any problems, so it hasn’t affected me in the slightest.
“Even just three months after my Brachytherapy procedure, I went on holiday to Tenerife, which shows how quickly I was able to recover from the treatment.”
On prostate cancer, Mr Law also has some advice: “When men get to a certain age, or if they suffer from the slightest symptoms, I would say to just go and get tested. The blood PSA test is painless and quick.
“When I first had Brachytherapy, a friend of mine said he gets up around four or five times a night to go to the toilet, which he put down to drinking a lot of tea. I told him that he should get checked with a PSA test, even if it’s just for peace of mind. My son also reached 40 recently and has also had the PSA test, and his score came back low. I don’t see why anybody wouldn’t want a simple test done to check their health.”
While prostate cancer is more likely to develop as someone gets older, it can still affect men at any age.
Prostate cancer say the main symptoms of the disease are:
• Difficulty starting to pee or emptying your bladder
• A weak flow when you urinate
• A feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
• Dribbling urine after you finish urinating
• Needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night
• A sudden need to urinate – you may sometimes leak urine before you get to the toilet.
If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, a process known as metastasis, it can cause other symptoms, including:
• Back pain
• Hip pain
• Pelvis pain
• Problems getting an erection
• Blood in the urine or semen
• Unexplained weight loss.
If any of these symptoms are spotted, it is essential to go and see your GP as soon as possible.
While it may not be prostate cancer, it is far better to get it checked and for it to be nothing than to leave it and to find out months later there was something that could have been done about it.
Prostate cancer awareness is at its annual high this month as men across the country grow moustaches as part of Movember.
The aim is to raise awareness not just of prostate cancer, but of all male cancers.
The more money that can be raised, the more that can be put into treatments which may save a life.
For more information on prostate cancer contact the NHS or Prostate Cancer UK.