A brave man’s battle against prostate cancer
- John Wall, 51, from Ireland, uses his battle against prostate cancer as a way to educate others about warning signs and symptoms and available treatments.
- He told the country’s national morning programme, Ireland AM, that prostate cancer had an incurable disease, but that treatments had extended his life expectancy.
- Prostate cancer is cancer of the small prostate gland, which is about the size of a walnut in a man, and which produces semen.
- Treatment for late-stage prostate cancer, also called metastatic prostate cancer or stage IV prostate cancer, varies depending on the patient’s current health and how severe the cancer is at diagnosis.
A man from Ireland is using his battle against prostate cancer as a way to educate others about the warning signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, and available treatments.
John Wall, 51, of Clare, Ireland, said on the country’s national morning programme, Ireland in the morningProstate cancer came on suddenly.
“A little over five years ago, I went to [general practitioner] Wall remembers it with a fairly innocuous pain in my leg, or so I thought. “I ended up being diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic advanced prostate cancer, which is incurable.”
The father of three was only 46 years old at the time.
“Needless to say it was a shock,” he said, “it’s not something I was expecting, but it did.”
Wall explained to hosts Muireann O’Connell and Tommy Bowe that his symptoms began with frequent urination during the night.
“In my case, it could have been frequent urination,” he said. “I used to get up a lot at night and I associated it with middle age. It wasn’t.”
He says his PSA was “too high,” and doctors initially revealed he thought he had prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate.
“But because I was my age, it was supposed to be prostatitis, prostatitis,” he said.
Wall was given a “barrel” of various treatments, including chemotherapy, surgery abroad, and radiotherapy in Ireland.
But it was his original “prostate specific antigen” or PSA test, which measures the body’s production of a protein produced in the prostate, that led to his diagnosis and treatment.
High levels can indicate several prostate problems, cancer being the most serious.
“I was very fortunate that the treatment worked for me. It allowed me to sit here today.”
But Wall says his cancer is over.
A few months after his initial treatment, he went back to the doctor because he knew something was wrong.
His PSA level was raised further, but he was not diagnosed until his third visit to the doctors.
“There were red flags everywhere. That evening, in the space of four or five hours, I went from my GP’s to the Galway clinic.
“Once I had one check up in the clinic, they knew right away that something was serious.”
Wall described the feeling of realizing that he would have to tell his three children about his cancer diagnosis as “extremely numb” because it meant facing his own death.
“I remember at the time wondering, ‘How are we going to tell our kids? He remembers how you would tell your kids something like this. “But the kids are remarkably resilient and we’ve gotten over it together.”
Wall now appeals to people across Ireland to listen to their bodies.
He says that something “harmless” can be an early warning of something much worse.
Late stage prostate cancer treatment
Prostate cancer is cancer of the small prostate gland, which is about the size of a walnut in a man, and which produces semen.
Treatment for late-stage prostate cancer, also called metastatic prostate cancer or stage IV prostate cancer, varies depending on the patient’s current health and how severe the cancer is at diagnosis.
But new advances in treatment offer more options and give hope to patients.
Dr. Jeff Tosuyan, a urological oncologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, previously told SurvivorNet that there are two primary conditions in which a person can be diagnosed with late-stage prostate cancer.
First, there are those who have been treated for localized prostate cancer and it comes back and spreads to other areas, “or there are people who never knew they had localized prostate cancer and had cancer, either in the prostate or elsewhere in the body.”
Prostate cancer screening
This year, approximately 248,530 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Most diagnoses are the result of the PSA test, which is how Tyler’s prostate cancer is detected.
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Dr. James Brooks of Stanford Medicine, a urological oncologist, says in a previous interview that men should start screening at age 55. “Current guidelines are to start screening at age 55 and continue screening until age 70,” he says.
“The reason for this is that prostate cancer diagnosed after the age of 70 has a reasonably low probability that it will end your life because prostate cancer, even in its aggressive forms, when localized is a relatively slow-growing cancer,” says Dr. Brooks. “Men at high risk due to family history should have a PSA test early,” he adds.
According to the American Cancer Society, high-risk men should begin screening at age 45. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (under 65 years of age).