Learning About Prostate Cancer
- The late Princess Diana’s butler Paul Burrell, 64, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the summer of 2022.
- He’s since undergone hormone therapy and radiation (radiotherapy) and recently shared that he had his last radiotherapy session.
- There are many different treatment options for both early and later-stage prostate cancer including active surveillance, watchful waiting, surgery, radiation, cryotherapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
- One of our experts says to get multiple opinions when deciding on the right course of treatment because different doctors may recommend different things.
- It’s not clear if the benefits of prostate cancer screening outweigh the risks for most men. Nevertheless, screening can be life-saving, and it’s important to discuss the pros and cons of screening and your risk factors for the disease with your doctor.
Burrell found out he had prostate cancer in the summer of 2022 when he had to get a medical checkup before appearing on British reality TV show called “I’m a Celebrity.” That checkup found raised levels of PSA (protein-specific antigen), which may be an indication of prostate cancer. And this is what led doctors to his diagnosis.Read More
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Treatment for Burrell has included hormone therapy and radiation (radiotherapy). A recent video shared to his Instagram showed Burrell ringing a bell to mark the completion of his “very last radiotherapy session.”
RELATED: Emotional Moment As Princess Diana’s Butler Paul Burrell, 64, Reveals Prostate Cancer Diagnosis– Treatment Options
“The radiotherapy treatment for my prostate cancer is now complete….onwards and upwards!” he wrote in his caption. “I cannot thank the staff at The Christie enough. Their support throughout the process has been absolutely incredible.
“…..and men over 50, please ask your GP for a PSA test!”
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It’s unclear what the road ahead will look like for Burrell, but SurvivorNet is rooting for a positive outcome. If you want updates from the late Queen Elizabeth II’s former footman (or domestic worker), head to his Instagram as he regularly posts about progress in his prostate cancer journey.
More Prostate Cancer Survivors
- ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’: Duran Duran Guitarist Andy Taylor, 61, Says Music Gives Him Optimism As Battles Advanced Prostate Cancer
- ‘I Think We As Men Are Not As Great An Advocate for Our Own Health,’ Says Prostate Cancer Survivor Al Roker on How to Eliminate Prostate Cancer
- ‘I Want Every Handshake to Be an Opportunity’: 62-Year-Old Prostate Cancer Survivor Is Determined to Educate and Help Others With the Disease
- ‘I’m 75 and I Want to Spend More Time with My Kids,” Says Prostate Cancer Survivor Elton John, 75, Who’s Thriving And On His Farewell Tour
Understanding Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer begins in the prostate – the walnut-shaped gland located between the rectum and bladder that produces the fluid that nourishes sperm. Outside of skin cancers, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men with about one in eight men being diagnosed with this disease during his lifetime.
As we saw in the case of Princess Diana’s butler, a prostate cancer diagnosis is not always preceded by symptoms. And even when symptoms do occur, they can be inconsistent and hard to pinpoint.
“Prostate cancer is a very odd disease in that it doesn’t have a particular symptom,” Dr. Edwin Posadas, director of translational oncology and the medical director of the Urologic Oncology Program at Cedars-Sinai, told SurvivorNet.
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Still, it’s important to note changes in urinary function – like urinating more or less often or waking up at night to go more than usual – could be a sign of prostate cancer. So, even if you think there’s nothing to worry about, always talk to your doctor about changes to your health when they occur.
RELATED: There’s No One Definitive Symptom for Prostate Cancer, But There Are Clues
There are many different treatment options for both early and later-stage prostate cancer including active surveillance, watchful waiting, surgery, radiation, cryotherapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy. The disease is one where doctors may have differing opinions on the best treatment path to take, so don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions and seek out multiple opinions.
Second (& Third) Opinions Matter When Deciding Between Surgery or Radiation
“I think it behooves the patient to have multiple discussions or second opinions, not only by the urologist who did the biopsy and diagnosed that man, but also with other surgeons and other radiation oncologist just to get a very circumspect view of what the treatment options are,” Dr. Jim Hu, a urologic oncologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, told SurvivorNet. “Oftentimes, I think patients need to understand that our health system is based a lot on fee-for-service medicine.
“And so therefore, a lot of physicians, I think, who are very well intentioned, will believe that their treatment is best for that particular man.”
Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines
It’s unclear if the benefits of prostate cancer screening outweigh the risks for most men. Nevertheless, screening can be life-saving, and it’s important to discuss the pros and cons of screening and your risk factors for the disease with your doctor.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends “men have a chance to make an informed decision with their health care provider about whether to be screened for prostate cancer” after “getting information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening.”
The ACS says the discussion about prostate cancer screening should take place at:
- Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
- Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
- Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).
When Should I Get Tested for Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer screening methods look for possible signs of the disease, but they can’t determine for sure if you have cancer. A prostate biopsy is the only way to confirm if the patient has prostate cancer.
Screening generally involves a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test and a digital rectal exam to feel the prostate gland. The prostate-specific antigen is a protein secreted by the prostate gland, large amounts of which can indicate prostate cancer.
“It’s slightly uncomfortable but painless, and takes less than 30 seconds,” Dr. Edwin Posadas said of these methods. “The amount of information that is gained from that is tremendous, and it can be a life-and-death type decision that is made.”
Though the PSA test is not perfect and an elevated PSA test does not always mean you have prostate cancer, our experts maintain that these tests are helpful. Make sure to discuss your options with your doctors and decide what screening should look like for you.
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