Retired salesman from Leeds urges men not to ignore signs of prostate cancer after diagnosis
A retired salesman from Roundhay has urged men not to ignore the signs of prostate cancer after being given the devastating diagnosis after being alerted by a test.
Derek Davidson, 77, was given the news he had a tumour in his prostate - a small, walnut-sized gland - after being alerted following a test which measures the levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in his blood.
He only had the test after a check-up with his GP following a back operation, in which the doctor informed Mr Davidson he hadn’t had a PSA test in a few years.
There is currently no national screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK because PSA results can be unreliable.
However, healthy men over the age of 50 can speak to their GP about having tests.
Now, Mr Davidson is calling on other men to get checked as regularly as possible.
Mr Davidson, who has seen both friends and family diagnosed with prostate cancer, added: “I would definitely encourage men to speak to a doctor if they have any troubles. I’m well aware of what happens if you ignore it.”
According to Prostate Cancer UK, around one in eight men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime making it the most common cancer in men.
Men over 50 and those with a family history of the disease are at greater risk.
Speaking of his symptoms, Mr Davidson said: “I didn’t have any real symptoms.
"But my PSA level was getting towards five, which was in the danger zone.
“Six months later it had gone slightly above five. I was then referred to a consultant who offered me a prostatectomy or radiotherapy.”
A prostatectomy involves removing the prostate and can cause symptoms including sexual dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
Mr Davidson was told by a friend about proton therapy - a form of radiotherapy that involves blasting tumours with high-energy protons using pencil-point precision.
Because it is so accurate, it can help to spare surrounding tissue and limit side effects.
Mr Davidson said: “I heard about people getting incontinent after prostatectomy and various other problems.
“I investigated proton therapy and was offered an initial assessment in London or Prague, but found it was cheaper to fly to the Czech Republic than get the train to London.
“At the time the cancer was still contained but rather than allowing it to become advanced it was better to take action.”
Mr Davidson decided to pay for treatment at the Proton Therapy Center in Prague.
He had five ‘fractions’, or treatment sessions, over the course of 10 days.
He said: “They looked after me very well.
"They booked me into a hotel close to the centre and I used to go up every other day in a minibus.
Everything worked like clockwork.
“The treatment only took seconds but by the last one I was feeling extremely tired. For such a short treatment I didn’t know it would make me that tired."
When he returned to the UK, Mr Davidson was surprised to find he was able to carry on with life as normal.
He said: “I have a PSA test every six months and the results are now very low, they have plateaued.”
Mr Davidson, who has three daughters and seven grandchildren, says he still has plenty of energy and is able to live life to the full - including golf three times a week.
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