Don’t let coronavirus stop you from getting checked out

Posted on in Health improvement, Services

Don’t let coronavirus stop you from getting checked out if you are worried about cancer.

That’s the message from marathon runner Graham Molyneux who underwent successful robotic surgery for prostate cancer after detecting the disease early.

Graham Molyneux.

Graham Molyneux

Prostate cancer referrals have halved since the beginning of lockdown according to analysis of NHS data by Prostate Cancer UK, with 27,000 fewer men being referred to a specialist with suspected cases compared to the same period last year.

Graham, 58, from Harrogate has been a keen runner for 30 years, completing 31 marathons to date.

He said: “I didn’t have any symptoms, but as my wife is a nurse and I’m quite health conscious I thought at my age it’s always good to get yourself checked out – and I’m glad I did.

“Guys can get a bit squeamish when it comes to this, but it’s so important to go and speak to your GP.”

In February 2019 Graham went to his local GP for a PSA test – a blood test to help detect prostate cancer – which revealed that further investigation was required.

Graham had a biopsy which showed there were cancer cells in his prostate and that he would need surgery to have it removed.

Graham chose to be referred to The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

David Chadwick, urology consultant at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was Graham’s surgeon.

Mr Chadwick said: “Graham had a robotic prostatectomy using the Da Vinci robot. The prostate is removed and if the cancer is organ-confined this will effect a cure.”

“The robot makes it possible for surgeons to perform minimally-invasive surgery with greater precision and control than using other techniques. This leads to increased cure rates, improved functional recovery and a reduction in the length of time patients have to stay in hospital.”

Graham had his surgery not long after being diagnosed. He said: “It was quite a quick turnaround. From having my PSA test to having the operation at James Cook was only around ten weeks.

“I was happy to go along with surgery because I knew I was in safe hands.”

Graham had his prostate removed and is now in the final stages of his recovery.

He said: “The nurses on Ward 8 were brilliant and the care I received before, during and after the surgery was fantastic. I had two nights in hospital and then I was back home.”

Consultant urologist Mr David Chadwick, left, watches his colleague operate the controls of the Da Vinci robot at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Consultant urologist Mr David Chadwick, left, watches his colleague operate the controls of the Da Vinci robot

Following his surgery, Graham took park in a post-op support group for patients who were recovering from recent surgery for prostate cancer. The group was set up by the trust and led by urology nurses.

He said: “I got a lot from it. It was good having that support mechanism in a very open forum, talking to people who are going through what you are and shows you that you’re not alone.”

The surgery was a success and Graham, who works as an accountant, was back at work within seven weeks and back to his main passion: running.

He said: “I was very fortunate that all the cancer was removed and 16 months later I’m doing well.

“Initially I had to have a PSA check every three months for the year following my operation. I now have a check every six months and will do for the next ten years.”

Mr Chadwick added: “In the UK, about one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. By getting himself checked Graham’s cancer was diagnosed early and we were able to act quickly to remove the cancer and begin treatment.

“It is important that patients do not ignore any symptoms that might require urgent attention.

“Speak to your GP if you have symptoms or are concerned about any risk factors associated with prostate cancer.

“We want to reassure people that we are open, and will remain open, for people affected by cancer and that we continue to work very hard to ensure all patients who have to attend hospital are treated as safely as possible during these challenging times.”

Symptoms of prostate cancer can include:

• needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
• needing to rush to the toilet
• difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
• straining or taking a long time while peeing
• weak flow
• feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
• blood in urine or blood in semen

Risk factors include:
• Being aged 50 or over
• Having a family history of prostate cancer
• Being black