What it feels like: ‘Watching and waiting’ while living with prostate cancer

One of the problems with prostate cancer is you might have symptoms like frequent urination, which I did have at the time, but it wasn’t impacting my day-to-day too much. It was more of a subtle change. I talked to my doctor about it, and he said there was no urgency to do anything because it wasn’t affecting my quality of life. However, in the fall of 2014, when I did a PSA test, my PSA number had risen significantly from the year before. So I was referred to a urologist.

There’s some debate about the shortcomings of the PSA test, with false negatives contributing to missed diagnoses and false positives leading to over-treatment.

Some people say PSA means nothing. I remember my father’s doctor saying to me when I asked about it, ‘Oh, PSA means nothing. I have a lot of men running around with high PSAs.’ So while some in the medical community may feel that the focus on PSA is overblown, I would say for myself, my father and a lot of the men that I’m in contact with through my support group, PSA really is the thing that spurs further investigation — even if you have to pay $40 for the test in Ontario because it’s not covered.

Anthony Henry is co-vice-president of The Walnut Foundation, a Black male prostate cancer support group. SUPPLIED

This is something that creeps up on you. If you’re not seeing a doctor regularly, if you’re not doing the PSA test because you don’t want to pay the $40 or can’t afford to pay the $40, then it means that your cancer will probably go undiagnosed until there are obvious symptoms like blood in your semen or back pain. And by the time you are having those kinds of symptoms, your disease could have progressed to stage four.


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