I’m deeply honoured and humbled to be nominated and elected to serve as an executive member of the Prostate Cancer Foundation BC Support Group Council. The council represents the interests of all prostate cancer support groups in the province of BC, Canada.
The American Cancer Society and the Canadian Cancer Society estimate that for 2019, in the US and Canada alone, approximately 195,950 men (174,650 American, 21,300 Canadian) will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, of which roughly 35,720 men (31,620 American, 4,100 Canadian) will die from the disease. On average, that’s almost 537 North American men diagnosed with — and nearly 98 who will die from — the disease every single day in 2019 (that’s about one man every 15 minutes).
The lifetime probability for men to develop prostate cancer in Canada is 1 in 7, while in America it’s 1 in 9.
The best hope for successful prostate cancer treatment and recovery is early-stage detection. Prostate cancer can be deadly when it reaches more advanced stages. However, because the disease usually doesn’t have any early symptoms, routine testing is essential.
Please note that I had no noticeable symptoms of any kind. Even several digital rectal examinations by different doctors over a five-year period reported everything to be smooth and normal.
Therefore, without the PSA tests that identified rising results, followed by an MRI that identified an abnormal area, followed by a targeted prostate biopsy, I wouldn’t have known about my cancer — especially the fact that it was already in the final stage before extending outside the prostate.
Since I was 57 years old at the time, it most likely would have spread outside the prostate within my lifetime. The chances of a full recovery at that point would have been much smaller. There would have been a higher possibility of death from the cancer, along with an increased risk of permanent side effects from the treatment.
Even though the PSA test helped me significantly, please be aware that there is controversy surrounding the test, which does produce many false positive and false negative results. In other words, an elevated PSA doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, and a low PSA doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t.
False-positive elevated PSA results can lead to unnecessary anxiety and unnecessary biopsies, with the risk of bleeding, pain, infection, temporary urinary difficulties and other issues. My PSA was monitored for over five years and was measured 14 times. Its disturbing upward trend made a better case for an MRI and a targeted prostate biopsy.
Even though I opted for surgery, there are many other treatment options to consider, depending on your test results and situation. Because no single treatment is best for everyone, it’s essential to be aware of the alternatives before making a final decision. In fact, you have lots of options to discuss with your health-care team.
No matter which treatment you decide on, from active surveillance to more invasive options, I wish you the very best outcome and that you live a long, healthy and fulfilling life.