Prostate Cancer Post 2 - Background and Biopsy
Updated: Aug 23
Usage - This is my personal diary. You may link other web pages to this post, but you may not re-post or reuse this information without written consent from me.
Disclaimer - I am not medical professional. I am describing my experiences in hopes I may help others facing this cancer.
I think I always knew since age 60 or so, that I would get this cancer. It is on both sides of my family and genetics is a powerful force. Eleven years later, this knowledge and subconscious preparation helped me confront the cancer without undue fear. Knowing my Dad had the same cancer at the same age and is now ninety-three years old was also a boost.
My PSA increased from 1.11 in 2004 to 3.43 in May 2019. In November 2019 it reached 5.1. I visited a urologist in December for a blood draw and digital rectal exam, which uncovered nothing. An additional blood draw was scheduled for February and PSA results showed 4.1. The doctor suggested Finasteride to reduce my slightly enlarged prostate. We scheduled an August follow-up appointment because it takes Finasteride approximately six months to achieve results.
I purchased the prescription, but after reading about the possible side effects, I decided not to take it. One side effect is a serious type of prostate cancer. With my family history, I thought the risk was too great. This was a “trust your gut decision” and I am glad I decided against the medication.
In May of 2020, my PSA was 7.1during a routine checkup at the family doctor. The doctor sent the results to the urologist, and I learned a valuable lesson. After waiting two to three weeks for the urologist to call me, I called their office. I learned that they get tons of reports daily and simply scan them into patient records without really studying them. I should have called the urologist immediately after getting the results.
My biopsy was scheduled for early July. I had to give myself an enema the morning before the biopsy and take an antibiotic that morning and another that evening. I was also given an antibiotic shot before the procedure and this is when I began losing my modesty. Until then and since I quit wearing those one-piece footie pajamas, only L. had seen me in my birthday suit. This is all going to change.
The urologist had told me the biopsy probe was larger than one finger, but smaller than two fingers. The insertion of the probe was the most uncomfortable part of the procedure for me.
Once the probe was inserted, a numbing agent was injected into the prostate and the twelve biopsy samples were taken. Each sample sounded like a miniature fly zapper being fired. Only a couple of them produced mild, but short-lived discomfort. I think the actual biopsy took fifteen to twenty minutes. The urologist asked if I were OK after every two to three samples and told me near the end how many more samples were left. I had blood in my urine and other fluids for about seven weeks after the biopsy. Doc said that is normal, but it is still a bit scary at first.
About two weeks later, I got the test results. I had cancer in the left lateral base area, High Grade Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia in that same area, and Atypical Small Acinar Proliferation in the right lateral base area. Dr. Google Search says both those latter findings are worrisome for cancer but are not yet cancer.
My Gleason score was 3 + 4 = 7. I still do not understand Gleason scores, but I think this means most of the cancer cells were grade 3, and the next largest number of cells were grade 4. The urologist told me my score is one step above the type in which he would recommend active surveillance. Given my current good health and the longevity in my family, he suggested I consider either radiation or surgery. He noted that this is a bump in the road, not the end of the road.
Now the treatment method decision begins.