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My prostate cancer experience

From Brian McGovern

In October 2007 I went for an annual medical checkup. When discussing the results, my GP advised that my PSA level was 10.22. I was referred to a urologist who I saw later the same day. On seeing him he had a feel at my prostate and said it was enlarged and that he would like to take some biopsies.

This was done a week later and, when the results were known, I was informed that I had prostate cancer. I had both bone and upper/lower abdomen scans a few weeks later and both of these were clear. I then went to see an oncologist who suggested that, as I was 60 years old, I was young enough to have the prostate removed. The operation for a radical prostatectomy was scheduled for 10/12/2007 and was duly carried out without complications.

About 3 months after the operation I had a further PSA test, which was now 0.79. When I went back to see the oncologist about this he recommended 33 sessions of radiotherapy, which I had during July and August 2008. My next PSA test was done in October and showed 0.02, which the oncologist was happy with. He also put me on a course of hormone implants which I am still having every 3 months. My last PSA test in April 2010 came back as "immeasurable", again good news.

My one and only problem throughout has been urinary incontinence (UI), which I have discussed with 4 different urologists. The best option I have been offered is the procedure for an artificial sphincter implant. My last discussion on this topic was with a consultant in the UK who told me that my UI was "severe" and that the operation would not completely cure the incontinence. This was somewhat of a blow because I was willing to go privately to have this done. The thought of still having to use 2 incontinence pads a day after spending something like £10,000 seemed too much for a partial cure.

As an alternative I decided to try a male urinary incontinence clamp, which I had seen advertised about a year earlier. Compared to the operation the cost is minimal (£65 in my case for 2 clamps) which I ordered from a company in the UK, although the clamps are made in Canada.

I have been using the clamp for about 6 weeks now and there has been a big difference. It makes travelling about so much easier with very little risk of leakage other than drips if fitted correctly. I use only 2 pads per 24 hours instead of 7 previously - a good cost saving over the year. I use a medium size men's urinary incontinence pad during the day along with the clamp. At night I remove the clamp completely and use a ladies style mid size pad inside underwear.

It's only early days so far but my experience has been nothing but good. I have travelled by plane and car using the clamp and find them so much more convenient than changing wet/soaked pads. Changing and urinating inside an aircraft toilet used to be a nightmare but now I can just urinate as normal.

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Updated: 5 May 2010