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Why I urge men aged 50+ to have PSA test

Posted onPosted on 27th Jun

Occasional News Journal contributor and local writer Alan Dawson, known as The Townsman, explains why he urges men aged over 50 to take a PSA test that could alert them to possible prostate cancer.

In June, I Marched for Men with my two daughters at Roundhay Park, Leeds, to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK.

We were marching for my late dad, Bart, their beloved grandad. It was an inspirational day; the sun was shining, and everyone was happy to be there to support an amazing charity ­— the other walkers were to be lifelong friends who we had only just met.

There was a nigh carnival atmosphere at the village as we warmed up for the march. Inspirational speakers talked well, but no one needed to be inspired; we knew why we were there and what we needed to do.

Behind some smiles there were tears; memories can be so bitter- sweet. Reading messages pinned to walkers’ backs telling how the family and friends miss a certain male relative that they have lost to such a cruel disease, made us realise that day — Father’s Day — was very special day and we were going to make some happy memories before we left for home.

Every 45 minutes a man dies of prostate cancer in the UK — two died in the time it took me to write this short article.

If all men visited their GP to be tested for prostate cancer the number who die every year (11,500+) would be reduced considerably. Unfortunately, a lot refuse to visit their GP — I was no different from most. But I was very fortunate.

This is my story…

Like a lot of men from my generation — I’m aged 61 — I wouldn’t normally visit my GP. I thought any ache or pain would go away by itself if it was left long enough, or so I wrongly believed!

But this time things felt different. I was experiencing an excruciating water infection, which had me rapidly searching for the telephone number of the local doctors’ surgery way before breakfast time.

Unfortunately, the infection was persistent and wasn’t moved by the first course of antibiotics. On a second visit to my GP, I had blood taken to be sent away for testing.

The following week I was feeling better but still visited my GP as arranged. It was during this appointment that I heard the words that I didn’t want to hear: “Unfortunately, your PSA blood level is a lot higher than it should be for a man of your age.”

(PSA or Prostate Specific Antigen is used mainly to screen for prostate cancer in men.)

I was referred to the urology department of the local hospital — by this time any feeling of immortality had faded, and I would have accepted any medical help that was available.

A tumour was identified by an MRI scan, but fortunately it was small and well-contained in my prostate. Further tests indicated that I didn’t need treatment, but I was placed under surveillance with regular PSA tests.

Recent tests have shown that I am stable and have only 1% chance of needing further treatment at this point. I feel reassured by the surveillance and realise I am in a good position – any future treatment I may need would be informed by my data and any treatment would be proactive.

If it had not been for my water infection I wouldn’t have known about my prostate cancer. In years to come my untested PSA levels could have gone through the roof with the cancer too far gone to treat.

I urge men to have a PSA test if you are over 50, and earlier if you have a cancer risk, You have a right for this test so have it. Make sure you are there to celebrate Fathers’ Day with your family — please get tested!


Support group suggestion

Alan is exploring the idea of forming a peer support group for men in Mansfield. “It would be an opportunity for us to talk to other blokes in the way that we know how around here,” he said. “Please email me on if you are interested. This would be peer-led and wouldn’t involve therapists or other health care professionals.”