No complications after my prostatectomy by Michael Denyard

Michael Denyard explains how fortunate he feels that his prostate cancer was identified early and to have effective treatment with no side-effects whatsoever.

“I’ve had a medical every year after retirement, including a PSA test. Although my PSA was rising, very gradually, my doctor said it was nothing to be alarmed about. By the time I was 63, he advised it was time to see a specialist. He told me – Mr Doherty is the surgeon you should see. That was very reassuring to know my GP was personally recommending Mr Doherty, rather than leafing through a directory and finding someone.

I had a biopsy and was told that I did have prostate cancer. To be honest, it was something I had been expecting may be the case and so I was prepared for it. I was grateful to know that the area of cancer was small and had not spread outside the prostate. I had options, including not having treatment straight away and I was leaning towards the option of taking more time.

My wife, however was in no doubt – she felt that if you know you have cancer, you should take the opportunity to have it removed as soon as possible. I was diagnosed the day before we went on holiday and while we were away, I came round to the same view as my wife. Once we had decided to have surgery, there was the question of which approach. Mr Doherty carries out all three of the different approaches – open, keyhole and robotic surgery.

Reflecting on his experience with approximately 3000 cases he said different patients need different approaches. The recommended approach is based on getting the best possible outcome for any individual patient. In terms of erectile recovery, he thought that open surgery (if well done) was still the most reliable and effective. He was very straight forward with us – open surgery is a bigger operation and things would feel more uncomfortable immediately afterwards. But it seemed logical to me that seeing things clearly would be the best way of clearing the cancer and sparing nerves. I was worried about the side-effects of surgery; in fact, that was what worried me the most. My operation was scheduled for April and we were going to Australia in September for five weeks. I couldn’t imagine how I would manage travelling around if continence was a problem.

Mr Doherty had explained that I would be an ideal ‘index’ case. This means someone with the type of prostate cancer and general health which placed me in the best position for the best outcome: total cancer clearance and no long term side-effects. So I approached surgery feeling very fortunate, as well as the usual sense of apprehension ahead of any major surgery. The first few days were very sore and it wasn’t pleasant having a catheter. My wife suggested the loss of dignity was similar to the experience of childbirth for women.

But I was extremely fortunate – my catheter came out, as is the usual procedure, after a week. I didn’t ever need to wear a pad – I was continent from the start. I was equally lucky in terms of erectile function, the other main complication. During the first three months, I was focused on recovering physically but at that point, my function returned fully. Mr Doherty has told me to expect it may take six to nine months, but again, I consider myself to be lucky. I didn’t need any medication to support erectile function – the recovery was rapid and spontaneous. At that three month stage, I had a PSA test which showed a level of 0.01ng/ml; the ideal level and lowest possible reading.

We went to Australia, travelling happily and by six months, I felt I had really put the experience of having prostate cancer behind me. Family and friends always ask how I am but personally, I have moved on and it is not an issue. I feel fortunate on many counts. I was fortunate to have PSA test results over several years. My level, at six, was not particularly high, but because there was a pattern of it rising consistently over time, investigations were made that would lead to an early diagnosis.

I feel fortunate in the advice I had from my GP – the he could guide me to the surgeon he personally could vouch for. I feel there are probably good consultants and excellent consultants, Mr Doherty being the latter, but it is difficult for patients to know how to distinguish between the two.

I feel extremely fortunate to have an early diagnosis that meant I had options, particularly the option of being an ‘index’ patient, able to have the best chances of full cancer clearance and no side effects. I was in this position because all through my experience, I had some very good advice and an excellent team at the Birmingham Prostate Clinic. But ultimately, having regular PSA tests placed me in this position and I am zealous in encouraging all my male friends and family to ask for a test themselves too.”