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March is prostate cancer awareness month

March is prostate cancer awareness month and 64-year-old Denis Scully from Haydock is speaking out about his cancer diagnosis in the hope other men catch the disease early enough to beat it.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Often men have no signs or symptoms and little awareness of the disease that kills 10,000 men in the UK every year.

Denis said: ”Prevention is better than cure - that’s what my GP believes, and I can’t thank him enough for that philosophy. He insists on annual routine blood tests which showed my PSA level had jumped up by two from the previous year. After eight weeks of tests I was diagnosed last August with prostate cancer.       
“It was such a shock to hear those words. I had no symptoms, I didn’t feel ill, but I had cancer. My doctor told me without the blood test I could have gone five years before I knew about it. But then it might have been too late. Catching it this early meant I was able to prevent it growing – rather than curing it. My GP had a clever way of quantifying it for me he said “you have got a better chance of winning the Euro Millions Lottery than you have of dying from this disease at this stage”. Of course I haven’t put a bet on the Euro Millions since then, but I appreciated the point he was trying to make!”

37,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and 250,000 men are currently living with the disease. Most prostate cancer is slow-growing to start with and may never cause any problems or symptoms in a man's lifetime. However, some men will have cancer that is more aggressive or 'high risk', this needs treatment to help prevent or delay it spreading outside the prostate gland.

Denis added: “I retired six years ago, but was a fish monger for 30 years in St Helens, so have managed to make a friend or two around town, once I started telling people I had been diagnosed I was so shocked to realise just how many other men who I had known for years had had prostate cancer too! It is the most common cancer in men yet I knew nothing about it or how widespread it was.

“I’m lucky that my experience was so positive, it’s been no problem at all really. I had a few side effects but nothing to complain about. I was referred to the new Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Fazakerly for radiotherapy treatment which was fantastic, not only did it save me traveling the distance to Wirral, the centre itself is like a hotel! I used to get there early so I could have a chat and a cup of tea before my appointment because it doesn’t feel like a hospital at all. Everyone was so kind and friendly, I couldn’t fault it.

“So after six weeks of treatment, I’m scheduled for a scan in three months but the prognosis is hopeful! Before this, to me the word cancer meant a death sentence, but how wrong I was. I know that if I hadn’t caught it early enough my experience could have been very different. But thanks to my GP insisting on an annual blood test and the wonderful people at Clatterbridge – I’ve found myself able to talk openly and laugh about the word cancer. I just hope other men reading this do too. If you are having symptoms that are unusual; or even if you are not – ask your GP for a test. It could save your life. It saved mine.”

64-year-old Denis Scully was treated at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Liverpool for prostate cancer.
64-year-old Denis Scully was treated at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Liverpool for prostate cancer

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