7th May 2013
When Douglas Hawkins turned 60 four years ago, he underwent a full MOT health check. This included a blood test to check his levels of the protein prostate specific antigen (PSA) which is produced by the prostate gland.
“The doctor said a slightly raised PSA may suggest I had cancer, but could also be triggered by an enlarged benign prostate that is common at my age” Douglas said.
Using his private health insurance Douglas underwent further checks – an ultrasound and conventional prostate biopsy. Both came back clear. Over the next three years regular PSA checks showed his levels were rising slowly and by January 2012 Douglas’s PSA levels had risen to 9.68 and he was referred to consultant urologist Christof Kastner. It was a decision Douglas believes saved his life.
Douglas was one of the first British patients to undergo a new method of prostate biopsy being trialled by Mr Kastner. The BiopSee was developed jointly by doctors from Addenbrookes Hospital, the private Nuffield Hospital in Cambridge and the University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany. The technique combines an ultrasound scan and MRI scan along with a new way of taking a biopsy. This is said to be more accurate at detecting cancer and could also cut the number of needless biopsies taken, reducing infection rates.
“We have undertaken 140 such biopsies during the past year and have not had a single case of infection” said Mr Kastner of the new approach. “This diagnostic tool will mean that hopefully we will be able to spot hidden cancers that do not show up on ultrasound or two dimensional MRI scans sooner, and therefore treat them earlier should aggressive cancer be discovered”.
When Douglas underwent the procedure 12 months ago it showed he did have cancer – at the top and front of his prostate. Tests confirmed it was an aggressive form and he had his prostate removed last May. He is now free of the disease.
“I dread to think where I’d be if it hadn’t been for that new approach – I believed it saved my life” he said.