Since numbers play a big part in the analysis of many medical conditions including cancers and itp I have tracked their progress on various graphs which I have shared on occasion. I thought I could also include them all (updated from time to time) here as well. For me there are three key indicators – PSA for the prostate cancer, platelets for the ITP and glucose levels (e.g. HbA1c) for diabetes. Also of concern during chemotherapy was neutrophil levels.
Prostate Specific Antigens (PSA)
So firstly the number that kicked off this saga, the PSA which, when raised, is an indicator of a potential problem. The graph shows both the longer term trend and the more recent picture.
PSA (the 8 years before diagnosis and more frequently since then)
Hormone therapy started 27 January 2016 and I had chemotherapy between 31 March and 14 July 2016. The important thing is to remain within the ‘green zone’. (For anyone who has had a prostatectomy the green zone is much smaller). Apparently while PSA is a slightly dodgy indicator of prostate problems once a problem has been confirmed changes from whatever base level you have are a good indicator of what is going on.
After a holiday in September 2016 a routine blood test revealed a low platelet count, a twentieth of a normal level. (The normal range is 150 – 450 x 109/L although you can happily live with lower levels – see various posts – but as low as 10 is not good). The initial treatment was a dose of prednisolone but I was gradually weaned off it because of the adverse impact on my blood glucose levels.
Now for those blood glucose levels. I have a regular (annual) test for HbA1c (see Glossary) which gives an average for the previous three months or so. This was running higher than desirable following chemotherapy and had been aggravated by the prednisolone during chemotherapy and following my platelets plummeting. So between December 2016 and April 2017 I also monitored a spot level on a weekly basis (with the finger prick test). This test is taken first thing in the morning before eating anything. See Getting blood out of a stone? for more information. This is shown in the second graph below.
Following my annual diabetes review in October 2016 I had more frequent HbA1c tests that year with it remaining obstinately high while I was on steroids (initially during chemo and then for the missing platelets) but has now returned to more acceptable levels.
The high reading shown below for 30 December is almost certainly due to my having an infection.
In April 2016 I was admitted to A&E because, it turned out, my neutrophils (mature white blood cells) had bottomed out and I needed intravenous antibiotics to ensure I fought off the infection. This was covered in Beetroot is not my colour. The normal range is 1.7 to 7.5 x 10*9/L and I have tended to be towards the bottom end of that range.