Alec is 71 years old. He retired sixteen years ago following a career as a psychologist.
When he was about 50 and still working Alec became concerned about the number of times he had to get up at night to urinate. This was impacting on his sleep and work. He saw his doctor who referred him to a urologist.
The urologist undertook a range of tests. A DRE indicated an enlarged prostate, but no lumps. A PSA check came in at 4.5 and Alec was advised that he should commence active surveillance. A urine test did show the presence of blood, and Alec had a cystoscopy to check for bladder cancer. His kidneys were also checked for any dysfunction. Neither the bladder nor the kidney checks came up positive.
Alec was told that having to get up several times each night was a result of an enlarged prostate and was prescribed Minipress pills. These did help with urinating, but they didn’t change the number of times that he needed to get up at night.
At about 55 years of age Alec found he was unable to pass urine; he was in significant pain and attended the hospital emergency department. His condition was diagnosed as prostatitis – an infection of the prostate. A catheter was inserted to void his bladder, and anti-biotics prescribed to overcome the infection. Over the next 5 years prostatitis would occur on at least 4 occasions.
Active PSA surveillance continued until he was 60. During these last five years his PSA increased to about 8. At one time it rose to twelve but dropped back. Alec’s urologist performed a biopsy and none of the six samples taken indicated cancer.
He was still frequently getting up at night and losing sleep. Any long-distance travel became a logistical exercise in ensuring toilets were easily found.
At about this time Alec became aware of the existence of the Geelong Prostate Support Group after reading a small notice at the Highton shopping centre, and began to attend meetings.
At the age of 63, Alec’s PSA had risen from 8 to 10, and another biopsy was done. This time two of the samples indicated cancer. “That was a big shock to the system,” he recalls, “however the urologist’s advice was just to wait and see.” Two years later a third biopsy showed cancer with a Gleason score of 7. Again, the advice was to watch and wait. But Alec was not so sure he wanted to do this. He had recently attended a Geelong PSG meeting where the guest speaker was the leading PSA pathologist Dr Ken Sikaris who said that if the PSA was more than 10 the cancer was probably no longer contained within the prostate.
Alec returned to his urologist. “I asked him whether that expert was right, and he said ‘Yes.’ Then I want it out ASAP.”
“I was provided with the options; I did my research and I spoke with many of the guys at the PSG.” Within a month Alec had an open radical prostatectomy. He experienced no continence problems – the purchase of a large supply of pads proved to be not warranted! Alec was restricted at home for four weeks post-op; his wound became infected at the point where one of the staples has become dislodged. On-going PSA testing has shown zero detection.
Alec is conscious of the importance of good health and fitness. He plays competitive indoor tennis, works out in his home gym three or four times a week and enjoys walking.
Time is also taken up writing a family biography.
Alec and his partner enjoy travel both within Australia and overseas. Last year they travelled to Iran, Georgia, Oman and the UAE. This year they are planning time in Scandinavia.