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Referral times ?

Posted 10 Jul 2021 at 23:51

Hi and thanks for letting me join to ask some questions for my Dad.

My Dad is lovely guy but after losing my Mum he just seems wrapped up in looking after his vintage motorbikes and not looking after himself.

Anyhow I nagged and nagged him to have a PSA test after his brother had problems. Our Doctor agreed but said she also wanted to do a "finger test". 

Apparently his PSA test  result was inside normal limits for his age but his finger test felt abnormal. I'm not sure exactly what she meant by abnormal but she made several references to the "median groove" being absent. I hope I noted that correctly.... I was a little embarrassed being his support at the exam.

Fast forward a bit and he received a letter from the local CCG asking him to contact the hospital if he hadnt received an appointment by 4th June. He wasnt going to bother but I made the phone call for him and they confirmed they had received an urgent referral but could not give a timeframe as to when he might be seen.

I really do understand the pandemic has disrupted things but I am so worried about Dad. How long should anyone be waiting for an urgent appointment and pandemics or not ...should he have received an appointment by now?

He doesnt seem to care at all but I do! Ive lost my Mum and want to keep him as long as poss!!! Any info gratefully received.



Posted 11 Jul 2021 at 14:43

Sorry to hear that your father has now joined this club. But since 1 in 5 men 40 & over have a form of prostate cancer, that most men of 60 have it and all men over 80 have it he has joined a club with a large membership. As you have probably read elsewhere, most men die with rather than of prostate cancer.


Regarding your particular question, I was diagnosed, at age 63, with prostate cancer and after my PSA tests in March & April suggested further investigation was warranted ( PSA test 10/03/21 came out at 5.32 & on 12/04/21 at 5.76), I had an MRI scan on 21/04/21 and was telephoned with the result on 30/04/21 ( If interested, the results are on my profile). Now, ordinarily, I should have had a biopsy within 2 weeks of that telephone call but,instead, received a letter from Addenbrookes on 11/05/21 advising that due to backlogs caused by Covid that there would be a delay; and that they were unable to advise when an appointment for my biopsy would be made. I was just about to push the button for having a private biopsy (cost around £4.5K) when I received a phone call from the hospital advising that I was booked in for my biopsy on 04/06/21- some 3 weeks later than it should have been under the NHS guidelines. I asked the surgeon who undertook my biopsy whether there would be a delay if urgent treatment was needed and was told that I could, if needed, have surgery within 2 weeks.

Because prostate cancer is usually slow growing ( a single slow growing cancer cell can take over 400 days to form, meaning that a 1 cm lesion on a prostate could be 40 years old) a few weeks/months delay in being diagnosed etc, though cause for concern for the patient, does not usually affect his prognosis. That said, I would certainly contact the hospital for an update if I had not heard anything by the middle of July.

It would be useful to know what you father has actually had done. You say his PSA is within the normal range for his age (it does go up as one gets older) but what is it? Also, I assume that he has only had the finger up the bottom to feel the prostate but has not yet had an MRI scan or a biopsy?  Also, useful to know is how old your father is?

Edited by member 11 Jul 2021 at 20:48  | Reason: Not specified

Posted 11 Jul 2021 at 14:49
Waiting times are tending to vary with hospital and location but nothing lost by contacting hospital next week to ask when appointment will likely be.
Posted 11 Jul 2021 at 23:58

Hi Freya, it is good of you to be looking after your father like this. It is a balancing act, he almost certainly has cancer because most "old" men do (how old is he?) the normal psa is very reassuring it is probably a very slow growing cancer if he has it at all.

The treatment for this cancer is worse than the disease, so investigate it find out if it is serious, and if the medics are not overly concerned, they will probably say just have annual or six monthly psa tests to see if it progresses.

Be very careful not to push too hard for treatment. Incontinence, loss of erectile function are not thinks you want to risk to remove a completely harmless cancer.

If your dad is happy tinkering with his motorbikes, don't spoil his fun. 


Posted 12 Jul 2021 at 12:38

Hi and thank you all for the quick replies.

This morning's post arrived with an appointment for my Dad on August 2nd. I have already phoned the hospital for him and confirmed we will be there. The man I spoke to on the phone said there is a considerable backlog and they are doing everything possible to catch up. They really do have a difficult job.

Thanks Dave ... Dad is coming up 73 in a few weeks and no way would I ever be able to drag him away from those motorbikes!!



Posted 12 Jul 2021 at 13:24

Excellent news


Good luck with the appointment

Posted 12 Jul 2021 at 15:03

I'm glad you've got the appointment. I think this will be a quick 15 min appointment. Almost certainly a finger up bum job, but remember the medic doing this will know a lot more than the GP. If (s)he thinks things are suspicious a MRI scan would usually be called for. If nothing too unusual found then it will probably be recommended to have a psa test in a year.

A record of psa tests and how rapidly they are rising will be a very good indication of how serious this cancer is.

Get the exact number from the psa test, some GPs just say "normal", but you need to be able to compare the numbers over time to tell if the cancer is progressing. 


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