Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK.
There are more than 40,000 new cases every year, mostly in the over 50s. In Brighton and Hove more than 130 people are diagnosed with the condition each year.
If detected early, over 90% of prostate cancers can be successfully treated, as Bill found out.
Back in 2005 his wife Tina read an article about Afro-Caribbean men being susceptible to getting prostate cancer. He didn’t have any symptoms but agreed to go for a PSA test. His results showed a slightly-higher than recommended level and his GP recommended he return a year later for another.
He went back in July 2006 and discovered his PSA level had risen to 6.1. Bill said: “I remember my GP pondering whether she should send me for some biopsies. She started by saying no but then changed her mind and said she would refer me for further tests just in case.”
It was fortunate for Bill that she did.
He attended the Princess Royal Hospital in August 2006 and had 10 biopsies taken.
In September he was told that more than half of the biopsies indicated cancer. The news came just 10 weeks before Bill and Tina were set to get married in Barbados.
He explained: “The oncologist said, at my age (57), I was an ideal candidate for brachytherapy which involved having tiny radioactive seeds implanted in the prostate gland. The radiation from the seeds destroys cancer cells in the prostate by surrounding it in a cloud of radiation.”
Bill was referred to the St Luke’s Cancer Centre at the Royal Surrey Country Hospital in Guildford in October and he and Tina met with Professor Stephen Langley, a leading surgeon in the brachytherapy.
“He took time to explain the whole procedure, the effects and its outcome to us in very simple terms and he gave us easy to understand information to read,” said Bill. “Our decision was easy – Brachytherapy at St Luke’s. It was the least invasive option with the best outcome for us. Stephen and his team told us to go and get married and they would be in touch soon.
“We went home to Barbados for our wedding in November and Tina made a big promise – to over 100 guests – to look after me, get me through the treatment and bring me back to Barbados fit and well – and she did!”
Bill had brachytherapy surgery in February 2007. It was over very quickly and he left early the next day feeling a bit sore and sleepy but otherwise fine.
A post op appointment at St Luke’s followed, as well as regular PSA tests at Bill’s GP, which showed his PSA level had dropped to 1.9. It has continued to drop steadily every year since the operation.
“I will have PSA tests every year for the rest of my life,” said Bill.
“The nicest thing is that 10 years on I still hear from St Luke’s every year. They send me a survey which asks questions about urine and bowel habits, my sexual performance and also about how I am feeling in general: “If your health stays like this for the rest of your life how would you feel?” My reply? Happy and grateful – thank you.”
March is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and Albion in the Community is encouraging people to visit the Speak Up Against Cancer website at: http://www.speakupagainstcancer.org/
and learn what to look out for.