An increase in frequency of passing urine, and having uncontrollability when needing to go is often something men put to one side as a symptom of getting older. However, it is also one of the key signs of prostate cancer, and must be checked. This is what Peter Cox, a 66-year old man from South Gloucestershire experienced.
Peter, who is now retired after working in an abattoir, found that he was regularly going to the toilet back in 2016, at the age of 61: “I was going to the toilet so frequently it was unbelievable. I couldn’t hold my urine in and felt the urge to go constantly. This was the sign that led me to visit my GP, and they offered me a PSA test.”
When undertaking his PSA blood test, Peter’s score came back high, and his GP then referred him for a biopsy at Bristol Oncology Centre, where they later confirmed that he had prostate cancer. Luckily for Peter, he caught his cancer early, and it was contained in the prostate, allowing him more choice on the number of possible treatment options available to him.
“I initially asked for them to remove the cancer because my dad actually passed away from melanoma, and I wanted to be done with it. However, because I’ve had a perforated bowel, and had a lot of work done in that area, my consultant advised it was too risky a procedure and we instead looked at alternative options.”
Peter was presented with information for each of the treatment pathways available, including radiotherapy and radical prostatectomy, and took time to speak with his urologist about what would be the best pathway for him.
“I decided to go for brachytherapy because that seemed to be less invasive with not as many side effects, and with a history of having operations on my bowel, I wanted something that would have the least impact on the surrounding organs while still tackling the cancer effectively. This option seemed like the best one for me, particularly in terms of lifestyle so that I could get back up and running quickly.”
A month later, Peter underwent his brachytherapy procedure at Bristol Oncology Centre, and was discharged the next day. Commenting on his experience of the treatment, Peter said “It was quite easy and straightforward. The team were very professional, they knew what they were doing. I have no qualms about the operation, it was brilliant.”
Soon after his brachytherapy, Peter was able to go back to living a normal life. “I no longer experience my problems with urination, and I feel 100% better now. I’m still cautious, especially on longer journeys – even though I probably don’t need to be, but when I’m at home I’m more confident. I don’t go to the toilet anywhere near as much as I was going before my treatment.”
Over five years later, Peter has recently come off his hospital-watch list, and continues to be monitored by his local GP. Every six months he undertakes a PSA test: “Since my prostate cancer, I’ve regularly had my PSA score checked which has remained at 0.02, which I’m really happy with.”
Peter has four children – three boys and one girl. He has two sons who are in their forties, and his other son and daughter are both in their thirties. He says that having prostate cancer has influenced his relationships with his sons, as he continues to encourage them to get checked: “I’ve told them all to take the necessary steps to make sure they are okay after seeing me going through my cancer journey. My eldest son, who is 48, has already been checked and had his PSA test which came back fine.”
“There’s not a lot of information out there, especially about PSA tests. But it’s a simple blood test, it’s not an inconvenience. I’ve made a point of passing it on to my boys to get their checks done, as well as my family and friends.”
And Peter is glad he did. As a result of Peter advocating the PSA test so strongly, his brother Richard, who lives in Cornwall, got himself checked, and found out that he also had prostate cancer: “Richard had his PSA score checked shortly after I underwent my brachytherapy treatment, and that was when we found out he too had cancer, despite showing no symptoms – he only got checked because of my diagnosis!”
“Unfortunately, his local hospital in Cornwall didn’t offer brachytherapy at the time, as that’s the option I suggested to him, which worked so well for me. Richard ended up having a radical prostatectomy instead to remove it, which he took much longer to recover from than I did from the brachytherapy.”
Peter continues to encourage men, especially those who express their concerns around frequent urination, to get themselves checked and to regularly have their PSA score monitored. “And once diagnosed, it’s important to choose the right pathway for you, and for me, brachytherapy was the best option.”