Treatment of Prostate Cancer testimonial – Dr William Davis

Dr William Davis is a GP living in Shropshire. Dr Davis describes his experience of prostate cancer diagnosis, choice of prostate treatments and why open surgery was the best option for him.

“I work in a hospital and was having a regular Hepatitis B status check. I had some other tests done at the same time, which included a PSA. I was 61 and my result was 6.7, which was a little raised, then when the test was repeated, it had gone up to 7.

“I had a PCA3 test which came out as positive for prostate cancer and this was confirmed in a biopsy. I was aware that prostate cancer can be a slow growing cancer and I was always without any symptoms. When active monitoring was recommended as a possible option, I was comfortable with that, knowing there can be side-effects from surgery and feeling it was better to delay the operation until absolutely necessary. Although I’m a rational person, you do have moments of doubt. For example, I had an episode of low back pain and I did wonder whether it was related to prostate cancer. But we followed active monitoring to the book, repeating the PSA test every three months and I was very confident in that approach.

“Two years later, a second biopsy showed there was an increase in the areas affected and treatment was needed, despite a lower PSA. Even though I’m a GP, I’m conscious that I’m not always sure who is the best person is in a particular field. I was aware that in terms of prostate cancer, it is particularly important that the person you see is very experienced because there are many different treatment options to consider and outcomes can vary widely. I asked Mr Doherty how many prostatectomies he had carried out and also explored the possibility of brachytherapy. I was going to get a second opinion but felt very comfortable with the idea of surgery with Mr Doherty.

“Mr Doherty explained that he would be able to achieve better nerve-sparing if I had my prostatectomy as an open, rather than a laparoscopic procedure. I must admit that as a patient, I found the idea of laparoscopic surgery more appealing than open. But equally, understanding the anatomy and how tightly the nerves are bound to the bladder neck, I could see why open surgery would lend itself to better nerve-sparing.

“I had my operation in April 2011. The overall recovery was not bad at all; better than I had expected. I spent eight days in hospital – I could have probably left earlier, but I was comfortable and was able to have the catheter removed before I went home. The pain was perfectly manageable and I was back riding my bike again within four weeks of surgery. I live in a part of Shropshire where there are no long flat stretches; it is all hills, so it is a good test of recovery.

“I have been really pleased with the nerve-sparing results. Six weeks after surgery, my continence is very good and I only wear one pad a day, for back-up as much as anything. My erectile function for intercourse is also returning.

“My own experience shows that laparoscopic and robotic surgery are not necessarily the best. You need to consider what outcome you want and who is carrying out the procedure. Having a few extra nights in hospital was certainly preferable to going home a little earlier after a laparoscopic procedure, rather than having longer term complications due to nerve damage.

“I’m very happy with my outcome – I feel I chose the right person and the right treatment. My advice to anyone going through the same thing is to do your own research – there is a lot of very good information out there in books and on the internet. It is really worth doing your homework, because there are advantages and disadvantages to all the options and with guidance, you can judge which treatment will be best for you.”