I’m 58 and had prostate cancer diagnosed a few years ago. The specialist said to me, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll whip it out, stick it in a jar and you won’t have to worry about it’, but I spoke to a friend who’d had his prostate removed and although he hadn’t had too much of a problem with incontinence – just a few drips in the morning – he hadn’t had an erection since the operation.
At the time I was just weeks into a new relationship after the breakdown of my marriage. I wasn’t ready to be losing my sexual function. Taking the whole prostrate out often damages the muscles that control urine flow and the nerves that affect sexual function. Then I heard about Dr Mark Emberton’s trials at the University College Hospitals, London. Dr Emberton and his colleague Dr Hashim Ahmed have been looking at how focal therapy, which targets the cancerous cells only and leaves the remaining prostate intact, can help to reduce these side effects.
Dubbed the ‘male lumpectomy’, their approach uses MRI scans to map the prostate accurately, and then uses high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to blast away the cancerous cells, leaving the rest of the prostate intact. I signed up without hesitation.
It has been absolutely fantastic. I was in and out, and back at work the following day with no side effects to speak of. It was so straightforward and easy for both the patient and for the NHS, as there’s no follow-up drugs needed. Once you’re done, you’re done.
Written by Mr Alan Johnson, June 2011
Read about another patient’s experience with HIFU, as reported in the Daily Express.