Grandfather of seven Chris Kitcher says he feels “unbelievably lucky” to be one of the patients benefitting from the innovative prostate cancer treatment being offered at BSUH.
Chris, 69, can vividly recall the moment he was shown a scan image of the tumours in his prostate gland, saying: “There were just two tiny, dark spots — like worm bites in an apple.”
At the time, the lecturer from Hassocks, West Sussex, had no idea that this scan was very special indeed. He was looking at an mp (multi-parametric) MRI scan, dubbed by some as the ‘manogram’, which is being pioneered at BSUH.
A major study published in The Lancet has found that the technique radically improves the accuracy of prostate cancer diagnosis. And the charity Prostate Cancer UK has described it as a “game-changer” for men’s health.
The study has shown that the mpMRI scan can achieve for prostate cancer what mammograms have long offered in breast cancer – the ability to accurately locate potential tumours.
It means doctors can be more sure about which patients need to have a biopsy — an invasive test that can result in infection — and who can safely avoid one.
It can also help differentiate between cancers that require treatment and slow-growing tumours that can be safely left where they are, sparing men side-effects such as impotence and incontinence from treatments they do not need.
Chris’ diagnosis came about after he began feeling unusually tired, often falling asleep in the early evening. This prompted his wife to arrange an appointment with his GP, when the doctor suggested lightly: “While you’re here, let’s get you a blood test for your prostate.”
The results showed raised levels of PSA (prostate-specific antigen), a possible sign of cancer and Chris was then referred for an MRI scan. Chris had no idea at the time he was one of the lucky ones to be offered the scan but now acknowledges how fortunate he is.
He said: “The staff at the Royal Sussex County Hospital are phenomenal people – although obviously in many ways I wish I’d never met any of them, they’re absolutely amazing. I consider myself unbelievably lucky and everything’s been explained very fully.”