Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Have you been told you need a prostate biopsy? Here is one man's recent experience...

My Story - So Far:

The main purpose of me writing this is to help anyone who is facing prostate biopsy, by sharing my experiences with you. 

My wife arranged for a private medical for me following a conversation we had.
I went to the BUPA centre in Leeds in August 2014. I had no real concerns about my health, no noticeable symptoms, but could see the common sense in getting checked out (I am in my late 50's). I was offered a PSA test routinely along with a whole lot of other blood tests. I also had a DRE (Digital Rectal Examination - a finger up the bottom) which was normal.
The result came back with a value of 12, out of line (high) my expected result should be about 3.
The doctor explained this and also that this test can give up to 75% false positive results.
She wrote to my GP and, after a talk, I decided that I should follow this up.
I met the consultant and he arranged for a biopsy to be carried out. 
I had almost a week to wait for the biopsy. Naturally I read all sorts of stuff about prostate biopsy and a host of related things and, quite honestly, scared myself. Result: by the day of the biopsy I was very nervous and apprehensive.

It is quite understandable that you will be worried by the biopsy. It will not be as bad as you imagine.

The staff are highly professional not only in their technical skills but also in the calm and caring way that they treat patients. They probably spend most of their working lives dealing with scared worried and nervous people so they know how to put you at your ease. They are friendly and explain exactly what will happen and they will give you the chance to ask questions if you want to.

As far as the biopsy goes: An ultrasound probe is inserted into your bottom and a local anaesthetic is administered. This is certainly no worse than the DRE. During a DRE the doctor will move their finger around to explore the prostate, there is far less sensation of things moving about with the ultrasound probe (I do remember it did feel a bit cold going in!). The same probe will do the needle biopsies which are nothing to worry about. I was warned by the staff that the machine makes a knocking sound and that I might feel a "sharp scratch" from the needle. I could feel the needle as it took the sample but in my opinion, it hurt far less that an injection into your arm, for instance. I was convinced that the first needle was some sort of fluke (not hurting) so it was really only after the second sample that I started to relax a bit. (Relax isn't probably the best word to use when you are in a room with 2 strangers who are sticking a machine up your bottom).

It was certainly not a nice experience but it was far less traumatic than I was imagining. If you are about to have this biopsy I hope you are reassured by my experience. It's really not that bad.
If you are trying to decide whether to go forwards with this test, do not let the biopsy put you off, thinking about it is really much worse than having it done. After all it is the best chance that you will find out if you have prostate cancer or not.

I did have a little bleeding out of my bottom but that only lasted a day. I have also had slight urinary incontinence (when my bladder is full I have "leaked" about a teaspoonful of urine). 

I am now 24 hours past the biopsy and the bleeding has stopped. I have had 3 leaks which I have easily dealt with by using some of my wife's sanitary pads stuck into my pants. I think I'll probably be able to do without the thing pad tomorrow but I'll sleep with one tonight.  

One other thing not directly related to the biopsy: I do not do well on anaesthetics. I come home from the dentist feeling sick after injections. I did feel quite sick for several hours after the procedure but I think that's just me and you probably don't have a bad reaction to anaesthetic!

This is easily "do-able" don't think about it too much. It's over very quickly and it's not as bad as you are imagining it.

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