My story: At 68 years, I asked for a PSA test but was put off by my GP as I had no urinary symptoms and he said the PSA test was not accurate – a scenario common across the UK. In 2014, then aged 70, I asked my GP again for a PSA test. This time he performed a digital rectal examination (DRE) and told me the prostate felt abnormal. I was then mortified to be informed the day later that my PSA was 188 ng/ml – almost fifty times above normal!
I was fast tracked me to the excellent York Hospital and a subsequent biopsy of the prostate confirmed an aggressive cancer (Gleason Score 8). MRI and bone scans showed it had spread outside the prostate capsule and into the local lymph nodes but thankfully not elsewhere in the body (Stage T3a, N1, M0).
Medical treatments for my aggressive prostate cancer.
I was stated on the hormone therapy called zoladex within 3 days. This stops the pituitary gland producing a hormone called LHRH, which then signals the testes not to produce testosterone. Reducing testosterone causes these tumours to shrink, at least initially. It also helps reduce the risk of cancer cells spreading elsewhere, if taken for a period of time after diagnosis.I then received 7 weeks of prostate and pelvic radiotherapy at the excellent Leeds St James-Bexley Wing. I continued to receive a 3 monthly Zoladex injection, along-side a daily anti-androgen Bicalutamide 50mg tablet until 2017.
My PSA dropped to <0.05 ng/ml in 2015 and, unlike many other men, I had no significant side effects to all the treatments I have received. In 2017 I stopped Zoladex and I am very pleased that my latest PSA was 0.23 even with testosterone level of 19-20 nmol/L for the past year
How I helped myself:
Keeping my weight down and exercising regularly certainly helped prevent many of the side effects of Zoladex such as fatigue and muscle weakness. In terms of diet, I attended one of Prof Thomas’s talks and did some extra reading myself. The first change, after initial diagnosis was to stop taking all the vitamin & mineral daily tablets I’d been taking for many years. This was in response to reports which show that excess selenium, vitamin E and zinc and vitamin and folate can aid cancer development (read more). I also stopped the daily fish oil omega-3 pills I had taken for over 10 years because in some USA National Cancer Institute work in 2013 stated they increased the risk of aggressive prostate cancer (read more). Ironically, I had worked in Animal Management & Nutrition, mainly chicken breeding & animal feed supplement companies travelling the world for many years and thought all these supplements were a good idea for the human body as well!
My wife Sarah, joined in the search for good quality information. She looked up loads on cancer progression prevention and healthy diets and recipes. In a nut shell, these included a change to no dairy and no red meat products. Just chicken and soya based products and fish. We started eating lots of colourful plant based foods and fruit (rich in vitamins, mineral , fibre and polyphenols). We studied Prof Robert Thomas “Lifestyle after Cancer” book (The latest called Keep-healthy after Cancer) and I have been taking 2 capsules of Pomi-T daily since Sept 2014 after its evaluation, in the randomised trial, was published in a Nature Journal. I also found that Prof Jane Plant book “Prostate Cancer – Understand prevent & overcome prostate cancer” was useful as well as “Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers” by Ralph Blum for a USA very amusing “warts an ‘all advice”. The Yanks say it as it is! Like “the prostate gland is located in a part of a man’s body that should not be operated on”… Dead right so get diagnosed early.
I recommend a PSA Test annually from 50 years of age – or 40 years if your father had cancer. Always get a printout of your PSA reading from your GP for future reference & don’t rely on GP’s verbal “It’s an OK PSA level.” Although PSA testing can be said to be inaccurate but from all the information I have noted from a number of friends who have emailed me the PSA is a good first indicator of possible PC problems, so more tests can then be done to confirm PC or not.
The normal PSA level for age 50, is 3 ng/nl, 60 years, 4 ng/ml & 70 years, 5 ng/ml. PSA results over this level, or a 50-100% increase of PSA level in a short period like one year should result in more investigation to confirm whether your PC positive or have just an enlarged benign prostate. An enlarged prostate gland or urine infection can also raise the PSA level”
The good news is prostate cancer can be mostly cured if picked up early. Even if locally advanced, like mine, the chance of long term control is excellent with a combination of medical treatments and effective self help lifestyle strategies. I certainly look forward to a number of years of good life ahead.