Prostate cancer testimonial – David Lehane

David Lehane is a 57-year-old dentist who had a nerve-sparing laparoscopic prostatectomy to treat prostate cancer in July 2009.

Mr Lehane is an index patient, which means he is part of a follow-up study to assess the effectiveness of nerve-sparing surgery. He was also one of the first patients to leave hospital without a urethral catheter.

“Four years ago, I had a general medical and my PSA test was on the borderline, but just within the normal range. I was told not to worry and didn’t really give it much thought.

“Then three years later, I had another PSA test and my result was 6.7. I was advised to have the test repeated three months later, but my son is a doctor and he said don’t hang around and get on with further investigations.

“I looked around for a clinic and Birmingham Prostate Clinic appealed to me because all the services are under one roof. I didn’t want to go from pillar to post, seeing different specialists working individually. I was keen to go to a clinic which offered the PCA3 test and was impressed by Mr Doherty’s own experience.

“In my own field as a dentist, I know that if I perform a procedure hundreds of times, the results will be good and equally avoid procedures I rarely undertake.

“When I was assessed in Birmingham Prostate Clinic, my PCA3 was on the high side of negative and a biopsy was recommended, which confirmed prostate cancer.

“There are several choices of treatment when you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, but I didn’t want to have radiotherapy or brachytherapy because although they may seem easier than surgery, problems like incontinence can develop two years down the line.

“I had two objectives – to get rid of the tumour and also to achieve the least damage in terms of incontinence and erectile function. I’m only 57 so of course it was very important to me.

“After surgery, Mr Doherty told me he was able to spare 80 per cent of the nerves around the prostate, which is a very good result. Immediately after surgery, I was comfortable and in no pain. The nursing care was fantastic – I was astounded by the amount of attention to detail.

“On the third day after surgery, my urethral catheter was removed. I was delighted – having the bag attached was awful because it makes you feel so old. I had a suprapubic catheter which remained in place. It’s very different to the urethral catheter and is taped to your stomach, measuring no more than two inches.

“Having the suprapubic catheter when I left home gave me some security, but I didn’t need it. I was able to pass water normally and had the suprapubic catheter removed the following day. It makes a big difference removing the urethral catheter on day three. It is purely psychological, but the bag is an awful thing and I would not have wanted to wear the urethral catheter for more than a week, which was the standard procedure.

“Within two days of going home, I was out walking four or five times a day, covering five to six miles. Two weeks after surgery, I was back at work and after a month was playing a round of golf.

“I work very hard on my pelvic floor exercises and find it helpful to do them when I’m driving or watching television. I had a little leaking during golf, but that was after playing for three-and-a-half hours.

“The recovery has been amazing. I’ve had almost no pain or discomfort and was able to start getting back to normal within days of returning home. Having nerve-sparing surgery was very important to me because as well as treating the cancer, you want to keep your quality of life.”