Roger Allnutt's story

In typical male fashion I had gone a couple of years without seeing my doctor – as a travel writer trips were more important!! Even when my PSA rose to 19 I put off having a biopsy. A couple of months later my GP ‘encouraged’ me to go ahead but Xmas intervened in the hospital system so it was February 2009 before I had the biopsy and by then my PSA was close to 40.

The biopsy confirmed I had prostate cancer, my Gleason score was 9 and my urologist used words like "aggressive" and "life threatening". Although the initial recommendation was surgery, the urologist was concerned about shading on some of the scans which might have indicated the cancer was outside the capsule - possibly to lymph nodes. However, bone scans did not seem to show any further spread.

The urologist and other doctors at The Canberra Hospital including at the Oncology Unit conferred and recommended hormone treatment plus radiation rather than surgery. Brachytherapy was also considered but apparently was evaluated as being not suitable. Although described as urgent I had to use my experience in the health system to make sure required scans etc happened ‘immediately’. You have to stand up for yourself.

There was no push by the urologist to have surgery which was a pleasant surprise and the fact that a team of doctors ‘decided’ the best option convinced me to go ahead with their recommendation.

I finished the first course of hormone treatment and radiation in September 2009 after which my PSA was down to 0.2. I suffered no ill effects from this treatment apart from some tiredness and hot flushes. Since then my PSA has been monitored regularly and on two occasions when it went up (4.6 at one time and 8 on another occasion) I have had more hormone treatment. I prefer Zoladex to Lucrin, the latter seems to have more side effects on me.

The last hormone therapy comprising two treatments three months apart, ended in February 2012 and my PSA which was then 0.2 has remained at that level. I still get some hot flushes and I am fatigued on occasion. My loss of sexual function is not a major problem for me. I am now 71 and still very active playing tennis and going to the gym at least three times a week. My diet is also good. I continue to travel regularly and work as a travel writer.

Although I haven’t had any bone scans recently, fortunately the last ones showed no spread of the cancer. I anticipate a regime involving extra hormone treatment whenever my PSA rises above a certain level in the future. I maintain a positive outlook and my wife is very supportive

Moral of the story
  • Get tested regularly.
  • Seek information on different treatment options.
  • Do not be rushed into making a quick decision, especially if it involves surgery. Treatment options are improving rapidly.
  • Join a support group and discuss experiences with other men - especially side effects of treatment which might not have been discussed with your doctor; talking to other people is vital.
  • Keep yourself as fit and active as you can
  • Maintain a positive outlook on life.
Roger Allnutt
23 November 2012

20 February 2013 postscript

Roger recently suffered a heart attack. At a presentation to the group he indicated that a brochure given to him by Vivienne Van Dissel (Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse at The Canberra Hospital) suggested that hormone treatment can have consequences for raised risk of heart attack, Type 2 diabetes and also heightened 'bad' cholesterol which - he said - is "exactly what I have had".