Prostate cancer treatment
GenesisCare's 1000th patient was Lionel Leventhal, a semi-retired publisher who had been undergoing 'active surveillance' for a decade before a blood test showed his PSA level had risen to 23.
Despite living just four minutes away from our Elstree Cancer Centre, he didn’t know it existed until his consultant oncologist referred him. Even then, it wasn’t until he was actually undergoing his radiotherapy that he fully appreciated all the benefits of the specific type of radiotherapy he was receiving.
Being aware of a potential problem with my prostate and undergoing ‘active surveillance’ for 10 years did not help prepare me for the news that I had prostate cancer.
When the biopsy revealed that 14 out of 15 samples had come back clear, but that one was cancerous I guess there was an element of denial. I’ve always tried to be positive and lived in hope that this wouldn’t happen.
I was referred to Dr Stephen Karp who immediately started me on a six-month course of Zoladex to shrink cancer, and recommended radiotherapy at GenesisCare’s Elstree Centre.
I’d previously associated radiotherapy with horror stories and dreadful side effects. Like the majority of patients, I simply put myself in the hands of my oncologist. It wasn’t until Dr Karp explained, that I realised the treatment I was being offered was different to what was available elsewhere. Even then, I tended to focus on the current step, rather than what potentially lay ahead, so it wasn’t until I was actually at GenesisCare that I fully appreciated all the benefits of the specific type of radiotherapy I was receiving.
I attended the every weekday - including bank holidays - for seven and a half weeks. The centre isn’t in a hospital environment, it is a modern building on a business park and I could easily accommodate treatment into my routine.
I had to drink plenty of water prior to each session. The team took CT images of me and wouldn’t start treatment until everything was perfectly aligned. This sometimes necessitated a pause in the treatment for a short while, or me needing to drink more water. On one occasion my bladder was so full, I had to come off the machine and sprint to the toilet, and then we had to start the process again. But nothing fazed the staff – they were so calm and caring.
I was surprised at how sophisticated the equipment was. I learned a great deal from the team of radiographers. They were so communicative, sensitive and kind. They put me at ease, were never rushed, and always had time to answer my questions.
I assumed that I’d have the radiation via one zap at each session, but it was explained that it would actually be given to me via several smaller beams to better pinpoint the cancer and minimise the risk to surrounding healthy tissue.
Once the daily image had been taken and I was lying in the correct position, the arms of the machine manoeuvred into varying positions to release the specific amounts of radiation. It was all so fascinating that I took my wife in for one treatment session so she could witness the whole thing via the cameras and screens the radiographers use.
I was able to continue with normal daily life throughout my treatment. I did feel extremely tired but the minimal side effects I had been a small price to pay compared to what I may have experienced had I had normal external beam radiotherapy.
I was surprised to be GenesisCare's thousandth patient as I didn’t realise it was such a new company, although I’m glad they were there when I needed them. In fact, if I hadn’t been covered by my medical insurance I would have paid to ensure I got this type of radiotherapy.
I would have travelled anywhere to get this treatment - living just four minutes away from the centre was icing on the cake."