Sir Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) writes today in the Guardian about his experience of being diagnosed with and subsequently treated for prostate cancer. Stephen and I have been talking throughout the year and thankfully he’s responded positively to treatment and is back in good health. It takes guts to stand up and talk about being diagnosed and treated with any cancer, and I applaud Stephen’s effort in writing this blog post and sticking his neck out.
Although Stephen spends a lot of his working life working with cancer charities, he still found the decision regarding what treatment to go for difficult to make. His story, of getting differing advice following diagnosis is one I hear from many men who receive the news they have prostate cancer. If you’ve never experienced any major medical treatment (and good luck to you), you may think that following such a diagnosis, the options you will be presented with will be clear cut. As Stephen’s blog illustrates, that’s rarely the case. Go for surgical removal of the prostate and risk side effects that include erectile dysfunction and incontinence (this isn’t a family blog and it’s part of my remit to be as open as possible); undergo active surveillance and fancy the uncertainty of what can feel like inaction, or go for a form of radiotherapy? Ultimately, it’ll be your choice.
The only way to be able to make the best choice for treatment – and this is true of whether or not to get a PSA test too – is to be informed. Knowing the risks and the benefits of diagnostic tests and treatments options will always make the decision easier and feel less like taking your turn at the lucky dip. At Prostate Cancer UK we provide a wealth of practical, evidenced and unbiased information leaflets and other publications on all aspects of prostate disease. We also run a confidential helpline staffed by Specialist Nurses who can provide answers to all your questions. If you (or your partner) are going through any part of the journey that Stephen describes, and have unanswered questions, or simply want a little bit of support, please do get in touch.
As it’s only 13 days into Movember, I don’t have too much to show in terms of my Mo, but I would like to echo Stephen’s sentiment and thank the hundreds of thousands of Mo-bros and Mo-sistas who are raising funds for men’s health this year. You can read more about how we’re spending the money from the Movember Foundation on cutting edge research and support here.