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Dad undergoing testing. Terrified and need advice/reassurance

Posted 08 Dec 2018 at 12:27

My dad is 75, almost 76. He has been having bladder issues for a while, needing to urinate frequently. And has had chronic back pain for a few years. Back and to to doctors with UTIs for the last 12 months. Yesterday he got results from his psa (dad went on his own and can't remember the actual figures...!) his physical was fine and thye couldn't feel anything untoward, but the results were worrying and they're sending him for further tests at the hospital.

I've done a lot of reading and it looks like in early stages prostate cancer is very much survivable, especially  at my dad's age because his life expectancy is likely to be shorter than how fast the cancer would spread. However I am terrified that it's spread, especially with how bad his back pain has been for the last few years. He has always been a frequent pee-er. I remember being a young kid (I'm 29 now) and we would have to make frequent rest stops on long journeys for dad to wee. But over the last 5 years or so it's got worse, he can't go anywhere without a loo. My dad is overweight, and tbh we have put it down to this, he is bad on his feet and sometimes is incontinent if he cannot get up and get to a toilet quickly enough, however he isn't incontinent in the way of urine comes out without him being aware of needing the bathroom.

Basically I'm looking for some advice I suppose from people in the know, if his physical was clear (no lumps, no worrying swelling) but his psa was high, is it still possible that cancer is advanced? I know rhat a high psa doesn't necessarily mean he has cancer, however I do think they will find cancer in his prostate considering his urinating issues. But it's how advanced it could be that is terrifying me. 

As I say j don't know his psa score from the test as he went alone and he's a bit rubbish and remembering the details, and doesn't think to ask, but I'm assuming it's unusually high as they're sending him for additional testing, unsure if this is an mri or biopsy. 

I've never had someone close to me have cancer and I am very much in the dark about the illness, other than its a horrible horrible thing to be diagnosed with. Any advice, support or reassurance is very much appreciated. And I'm sorry for my absolute naivety where the facts are concerned! 


Thanks Steph xx 


Posted 08 Dec 2018 at 14:24
His symptoms could simply be BPH (enlarged but benign prostate) and that would also cause a higher than expected PSA.

Data shows that 70% of men in their 70s have some prostate cancer but most are never diagnosed, never need treatment and eventually they die for some other reason. So there is a good chance that your dad does have it, but also a very good chance that he will be around for a long, long time.

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." Soren Kierkegaard

Posted 08 Dec 2018 at 15:16

Not really possible to add much more to what Lyn has said without much more detail and in this respect I suggest it would be helpful if a family member or friend could accompany dad to appointments and record salient information. Dad could also ask to be copied in to medical information between his hospital and GP so this could be posted and we and you could have a better understanding of his situation. It is likely that at the hospital the Urologist will want to do another DRE and a further PSA test. An MRI scan and biopsy may follow as maybe a bone scan but this is sometimes dependent on how high his PSA is.

Greater urgency and frequency can be caused by BPH or for other reasons such as urinary infections but also due to the ageing process and even as in my case when I first experienced such problems in my fifties and long before cancer was diagnosed, due a diverticulum where a protruding pouch means that not all urine is passed.

Try not to worry, most times treatment as appropriate can help control cancer, (should this be the case) if not cure it., so chances are that Dad will be around for a long time yet.

Edited by member 08 Dec 2018 at 15:18  | Reason: Not specified

Posted 08 Dec 2018 at 16:12

Thank you for your responses, I don't think mum knew what he was going in for to be honest, he's a bit of a moaner and a hypochondriac (he sees something on TV and is convinced he has it) so he's at the doctors quite often, so mum didn't think to go with him. She's said she will be going to future appointments which is good as we will all have a bigger picture of what's going on.

I read that 70% of males his age have cancer cells in their prostate, and I'm hoping that this is simply all it is, I'm hoping worst case scenario is yes it is cancer, but it's not spread and is not aggressive. I can't help but worry thought that he's one of the unlucky ones who didn't catch it early and in fact he's had prostate cancer for many years and it's never been picked up on. As far as I am aware this is the first PSA he's had. 

Is the physical exam showing no signs of concern a positive? Does this mean its less likely to be late stage?? 

I know that the day will come that I'll lose him, but I was hoping that was a long way in the future, and when you hear the c word, you can't help but think the worst. I must say this site along with the NHS site (I refuse to read anything other than official source material whne it comes to medical things) put my mind at ease a little, I was shocked when I read just how common prostate cancer is and just how many people survive 10 years or more. 

I really hope i have my dad around for at least another few years!! 


Posted 08 Dec 2018 at 18:44

PSA is not of itself a good indicator for the diagnosis of PCa unless the figure is very high. The chances that it is cancer increase considerably with mounting figures. On the other hand some men even with a low figure can have cancer. Actually, PSA is rather more reliable done at regular intervals of the progress of men diagnosed with PCa and also to monitor what is happening after treatment but even then this is not a perfect indicator.

Certainly, there is less chance of advanced PCa if there is no hardness, irregularities or nodules felt by the GP when he does the DRE. However, this is a bit subjective and sometimes Urologists who have better experience of undertaking DRE's may make a different interpretation. Even an MRI can fail to show actual cancer and the typical TRUS biopsy fail to find it. This is all very indefinite so the Consultants have to do their best with these tools and use their expertise and sometimes intuition, perhaps involving more detailed tests to come to a conclusion.

Unfortunately, it means waiting all tests and a diagnosis which we know can be an agonizing wait.

Posted 08 Dec 2018 at 19:24

Thank you for taking the time to write back to me.. I really do appreciate it, and it's so lovely of you all to give advice and support. I know you're right about having to wait and see what the specialists say and what the test results come back with. It's nice to know though that should we get a bad result that I have somewhere I can go and I can signpost my mum and dad to for support from people who fully understand!

It's also a really crappy time of year to be worrying about things like this, 2 weeks til Christmas and he's likely to have the tests before Christmas (I believe they have said within the next two weeks be will be seen), so we will we worrying all over Christmas about the results. Going to make the most of these holidays!!

Thank you again xx 

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