OK, I'm going to get up on my soap box for this thread, but it's important..
I have been getting an annual physical for about the last 30 years.. at first it was part of my employment, but once that job ended, I decided to continue the checkups. My current employer will pay all the costs of an annual physical, since it's considered 'preventive care'.
So part of my annual physical is a blood workup, and for about 20 years, it has included a check on the PSA level
PSA is Prostate Serum Antigen.. it basicly is the amount of this very specific antigen that the prostate gland secretes. IF the the prostate is normal, healthy it will be around 1-2.5 if you are in your forties. These numbers do vary from person to person. and with your age.
If your PSA level increases more than .5 in a year, this is considered grounds for further inspection and testing.
One of the 'checks' for prostate issued is the DRE, or 'finger sweep' to feel for lumps or bumps in the prostate.
So, I've been tracking my PSA for several decades. About 10 years ago, it abruptly went from my normal 1.5-2.0 reading to 3.5 in one year..
BIG RED FLAG !! So I went to a Urologist, got an ultrasound and a biopsy, All negative, Diagnosis: prostatitis, and irritated prostate.
The next year the PSA level was up again, over 4.. so again, an ultrasound, and biopsy, and again, all negative, Diagnosis: prostatitis.
This rising PSA level continued for several more years, reaching around 10-11 for the last three years.
All Biopsies and ultrasounds were negative,, diagnosis: chronic prostatitis.
last october my PSA came in at 11.7, a slight rise over the last year, so again, an ultrasound and biopsy.
The urologist told me he saw nothing in the ultrasound, and the gland was smooth, no lumps or bumps..
But the biopsy came back positive, 2/6ths of the gland had 75% cancer cells in the biopsy samples.
Now, here's where I get on my soap box: I have ZERO Symptoms.. I don't have any lumps, bumps, problems starting to go or stopping,
and I don't have any irritation, or frequency problems,, I typically stay in the cockpit for 3-5 hours on transcon flights.
The first officers and Flight attendants' call me 'Captain Camel'..
So without getting regular blood tests and tracking my PSA levels, I would have NO CLUE that I have cancer..
SO GET ANNUAL PHYSICALS, get your PSA checked and track it from year to year. Do NOT rely on waiting to have lumps or urinary issues. It may be TOO LATE
Since I had been tracking my PSA, I was able to find the cancer early, while it was fully confined to the prostate.
There are lots of available proceedures,
Surgery: radical prostatectomy, the complete removal of the prostate,
Internal radiiation: Brachytherapy: either radioactive titanium 'seeds' are put in the gland, or radioactive needles are used to dose the gland with radiation.
External beam radiation: externally aimed radiation, focused on the prostate.
Cryotherapy: freeze the gland,
Hormone therapy: pretty much for late stage cancer, or for patients in their 'later years'.
I had been led to believe that 'only' radical prostatectomy would 'assure' that all the cancer was gone, and would not return.
I found out that that was inaccurate, that all the above therapies except for the hormone therapy have a 10-12% reoccurance of cancer after 10-15 years. The reason is that the prostate has blood flow, like all organs/glands, and the blood stream can carry cancer cells outside the prostate and those cancer cells can lodge in other locations in the body.. you can actually have prostate cancer in the bones, other organs etc..
So I decided to not risk the significant side effects that can happen with the radical prostatectomy, even the very best robtic surgeons can't guarantee full recovery of all your functions..
And, after 10 years of needle biopsies, the surgeons told me that the my rectum wall was stitched to the prostate with scar tissue . So I would have a perforated rectum, and have to have a colostomy bag for 6 weeks or so untill the rectum healed .
I decided to go with both Brachytherapy, using the radioactive needle dosing instead of the radioactive 'seeds' which stay in your body,, I can just see some idiot TSA moron with their 'wand' stuck between my legs, detecting the titanium seeds in my crotch.. Not going to happen..
I also am recieving external beam radiation following two Brachytherapy High Dose Radiation 'needle' surgerys.
The external beam radiation is a 6 week process. each day, 5 days a week I have an appointment to go 'hug' a Nuclear reactor !!
So I'll have several months after all the radiation is done, to get my urinary functions and bowel functions back to normal control levels, so I can reapply for my FAA 1st Class medical, and I can get back to work.
SO, DON"T WAIT FOR SYMPTOMS: TRACK YOUR PSA !!!
Ok, off my soap box.
I elected to go with both forms of radiation.