Fine tuning the PSA sledgehammer

San Diego Dan has posted a link to an interesting article on various approaches to refining the PSA test. As I said a while ago a raised PSA really only shouts “Have more tests” since it is possible to have prostate cancer with a PSA of zero and to not have it with a PSA of 4,000. Factors such as how much time you spend on the saddle of a bicycle will have an impact on your PSA level. Then there is the question of whether the cancer is aggressive or not. If you can tell this then a lot of unnecessary treatment can be avoided. While I wouldn’t say avoid hospitals and treatment at all costs (and in the US personal costs can be significant) certainly if unnecessary treatments can be avoided not only does it save money it also avoids all the various side effects and risks associated with any medical intervention. The article explains that researchers are developing genetic tests, imaging tests, and algorithms in an effort to reduce the more than a million men a year who have prostate biopsies and, even more important, reduce the thousands who get treatment they don’t need.


If you don’t look in the mirror have you lost any hair?

One of the well-known side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. Of course it is different for each person (and each drug) but in anticipation I had my hair cut short and trimmed my beard. I also ensured that I had suitable headgear in case the loss of hair created a cold spot on my head (a relative even offered to knit me a balaclava). Continue reading “If you don’t look in the mirror have you lost any hair?”

Mr Grumpyface

Over the past few months we have done our best to avoid picking up any infections – which generally means people born infections – by keeping clear of crowds and potential infection epicentres. There are of course other sources of infection. Being bitten by a seal would not be good (I gather that seals have one of the more infectious bites, although not as bad as a komodo dragon) but that is a risk that is fairly easy to avoid in the middle of Buckinghamshire. However any animal bite or scratch does come with some risk. Continue reading “Mr Grumpyface”

Countdown – three weeks to normality?

Last Thursday was my sixth (of six) chemo session. So the last three week cycle of  my neutrophils and white blood cells running for cover, bottoming out between seven and ten days later before starting to recover so that I am fit enough to be zapped again. This time though no more zapping. Actually zapping is the wrong word, more appropriate for radiotherapy than for chemotherapy, but I will stick with it for now. Continue reading “Countdown – three weeks to normality?”

Wobbly legged and listless

Wobbly legged and listless – I am sure it was a hit in the 1970’s

 Wobbly legged and listless

I’ve gone and done it again

Wobbly legged and listless

My blood is full of my chemo

Chemo, I can’t get free from these veins

Oh, oh-oh

 Well maybe not (sorry Andy Fairweather-Low). I saw my Oncology Consultant today and everything seems to heading in the right direction. The next consultation is in October just before my birthday – gosh doesn’t time fly. Only ten days to chemo 6 – my last session. Continue reading “Wobbly legged and listless”

Three down, three to go

Last week I had my third chemotherapy session (of six) followed by appointments with my GP and Oncology Consultant. The chemo session was very efficient and quick – we hardly needed the chit for the car to allow us to stay over two hours. The next session might be a little longer because of additional information needed for the Stampede trial. Continue reading “Three down, three to go”

The best laid plans . . . .

At this point in my last chemo cycle I was in Ward 5 at SMH having been admitted the night before with a temperature and rigor (the shakes – and definitely not of the milk kind). So this time I have made even greater efforts to keep clear of potential sources of infection but as I approach my immunosuppressed period Liz and I both go down with colds. Snuffles and sneezes all round. I have a word with CCHU who say keep a close eye on my temperature and that I can take Day Nurse (other remedies are available) or whatever if required. Continue reading “The best laid plans . . . .”

“You don’t feel your usual peachy self”

That is how my sister-in-law described being on chemotherapy – not ill but not your usual peachy self. She had a different regime to me with weekly doses then a gap and then the same cycle again (more a Matterhorn than my Ben Nevis to use my earlier analogy). At one time there was just a pretty standard dose for all cancers but now it is fine-tuned to the cancer, where it’s at and to the patient. The dose is calculated on the individual’s surface area (estimated from height and weight)! Continue reading ““You don’t feel your usual peachy self””