Mens Health

I thought I would share a recent experience with you. I hope that, having read it, your awareness will be raised and that you may be able to offer support to a friend/colleague/relative in the future.

For those of you of a sensitive disposition, some graphic description follows but I am sure you will see why I deem it necessary.

A couple of months ago I got up in the morning and went to the toilet as all men do. I nearly fainted when I saw that I passed some pure blood when I was expecting to see urine. That is not an understatement, I can assure you! I went into panic mode and my blood ran cold. I was literally shaking when I told my partner, Cindy, what had happened.

I quickly showered and got dressed and we drove immediately to my local medical centre to see one of the G.P. team. A nurse practitioner saw me initially and asked me to provide a urine sample. I dreaded what I would produce and went to a toilet cubicle to do the necessary. I was massively relieved to see that I produced some cloudy urine of a normal colour. When tested by the nurse practitioner, I was informed that the sample contained extremely high levels of protein.

My G.P. saw me some 10 minutes later and, after exhaustive questioning, told me that he wished to send me to the adjacent haematology department to have some blood extracted. I was not experiencing any discomfort or lower back pain which led him to initially conclude that the problem lay in either my bladder or prostate. He hoped that the results of the blood tests would be available later in the morning and arrangements were made for my return later that afternoon. He anticipated that my Prostate Specific Antigen levels would be raised and that I would need to be referred for further investigation. He declined to manually examine my prostate at this stage at this could have a potential adverse impact on my PSA levels.

Later that afternoon I returned to see my G.P. and learned that my PSA level was 12.5 which is higher than normal and that this indicated that I might have a problem with an enlarged prostate which could be pre-cancerous, benign or, in the worst case scenario, malignant. As a consequence of the results of the blood test, I was referred for an urgent appointment with a specialist urology consultant and a CAT scan. I had not passed any additional blood and my urine cleared during the course of the day.

3 days later I reported for a CAT scan and had 2 procedures. The first was without an injection of contrast dye and the second was with an injection of contrast dye administered via a canula which was inserted into my wrist. A couple of hours later I saw the consultant. He had the results of both scans which indicated that I had no problems in my urinary tract or lower abdomen. He wished to carry out a further examination on me in an operating theatre. This was carried out immediately and involved having a local anaesthetic prior to a camera being inserted into my urethra. I was given a technicolour tour of my bladder ( which was pronounced healthy ) and my prostate which was moderately enlarged with small additional nodules which may have accounted for the blood I had passed.

I was then told that there were 2 options to be considered. The first was that various random biopsies could be carried out on my prostate and samples sent for examination. The second was that an MRI scan be taken of my prostate. This would determine whether or not biopsies were required and would assist in laser-guided collection at a future date as opposed to random collection. He recommended the latter and this was also my preferred option.

I had 2 MRI scans 4 days later which were similar to the CAT scans I had undergone. One was without contrast and the second was with contrast. Each procedure took less than 10 minutes. I was notified of an appointment date at the beginning of the following week.

When I next saw the consultant he was able to deliver the good news that, although I had a moderately enlarged prostate, it was very healthy and that I did not require to have any biopsies taken. He advised me that the baseline for my PSA levels was 12.5 and that, in the event of it exceeding 15 in the future, it would be controlled by medication as opposed to any surgical intervention. In view of my age, an annual blood test would be sufficient to monitor my PSA levels.

I was fortunate to have a positive outcome from my horrendous experience. From start to finish it had taken less than 1 month.  It is recommended that all men should have their PSA levels checked on an annual basis when they reach the age of 50. A manual examination of the prostate is also recommended as part of the MOT Health Check which is carried out by many health centres which have Men’s Health Clinics. This is a painless process, if somewhat potentially embarrassing to some. The procedure can always be carried out by a male doctor if requested.

It can make the difference between life and death. I know my preference. I would urge you to cajole any reluctant males you know to follow the sensible path and be checked.

Stuart Band