‘Don’t leave it too late; get your PSA checked out.’ That’s the key message from two North Lincolnshire men who are helping men across the UK in the fight against prostate cancer.
Michael Allen, 71, has been battling cancer for the past three years, and Bryan Brattan, 75, was diagnosed four years ago. They are both helping health professionals find new treatments for the illness.
Mr Allen said: “I was asked three years ago whether I was interested in taking part in a drug clinical trial. My dad died of prostate cancer and there’s a good chance my granddad died of it as well. So I thought why not give it a go as it might help other men in the future.
“It’s really important that men are aware of their prostate and do get it checked out as it could save their life. I had no symptoms and it was a chance conversation while on holiday that I decided to see my GP.”
All men over the age of 50 are entitled to a free PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test, which can detect early signs of prostate cancer.
After various scans, biopsies and blood tests, Mr Allen was told he had prostate cancer. “It was at this point that a doctor mentioned clinical trials to me. With my family history and a son to think about, I just thought if I could be of help it was worth it.”
Mr Brattan decided to see his GP four years ago after noticing he was popping to the loo more often than usual. “They checked my PSA which was raised and I was fast tracked to the hospital where, following various tests and scans, they diagnosed prostate cancer.
“When I first got my diagnosis my world came crashing in around me and I wanted to know how long I had got. I was told about clinical trials from day one and decided to go straight onto one. I have been on it ever since which is great as I am closely monitored every three months and there is always someone on the end of the phone to answer any questions or concerns.”
Both Mr Allen and Mr Brattan were placed under the care of the research nurses, together with consultant oncologist Dr Sanjay Dixit, and received drug therapy every three months in an attempt to keep the cancer at bay.
Mr Allen said: “I got to know Kathy Dent one of the research nurses. I have had really close contact with her; I always know she is at the end of the phone if I need her. She’s been a mum to me really. Talking me through everything and just being there.”
Research nurse Kathy Dent said: “Clinical research is one of the ways in which we can improve treatments in the NHS. Studies compare current treatment with potentially better ones, so we can keep improving the care we offer.
“Without people like Mr Allen and Mr Brattan this would not be possible. It is thanks to them and everyone else taking part in clinical trials that we are learning more all the time about how to deal with a range of medical conditions.”
Mr Allen added: “I consider myself lucky to have got on not one but two clinical trials. All of the nurses and doctors have also been absolutely fantastic. I would encourage other people to get involved with clinical trials as it can help in the fight against cancer.”
Mr Brattan said: “I cannot fault any of the staff. I couldn’t have got better treatment if I had been a private patient. I feel like bit of fraud really as I feel so well. I have had no problems at all and I am continuing my life as normal. I feel great.”
Last year, more than 1,000 patients at the Trust chose to take part in nearly 100 clinical research studies carried out across Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole hospitals in the following areas: oncology, diabetes, dermatology, paediatrics, haematology, gastrointestinal, rheumatology, stroke, obstetrics, intensive care unit, cardiology, gynaecology, surgery and neurology