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Interview 40

Age at interview: 57
Brief Outline: Did not have any symptoms, but having read articles about prostate cancer and the PSA test in the national press he decided to ask his GP for the test. The result was 'normal'.
Background: Occupation' Acupuncturist. Marital status' married. Number of children' 1. Ethnic background' White American.

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He thought it would be a good idea to have a PSA test, and regarded it rather like having a...

He thought it would be a good idea to have a PSA test, and regarded it rather like having a...

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Yes well I, I've known about the PSA test, I've read articles about it and with differing opinions I should say about it's validity and reliability as a, as a diagnostic for early you know prostate cancer. And I'm 57 years old when I, I've read at various times that men in their 50s should have tests like this, that it's one of those things that you know you should get checked, a bit like your cholesterol and other things when you reach a certain age. So this year I thought, having had a discussion with one or two people including my wife, that perhaps I, you know I should have the test, really just on the basis of my age. I have no symptoms that would lead me to think that there was a problem so it wasn't a case of being concerned about some symptoms or being concerned about a possible illness, it was more just a case of well it's a time of your life when you should get these things tested. So, so I made an appointment, went in and had the test. It was all a very straightforward procedure, just a normal blood test really. And I had the results back subsequently which were fine, and you know so that have me some reassurance I guess about the fact that I'm okay. But so it was all quite a routine sort of procedure and there wasn't any particular feeling that I ought to have it again or at any other time.

 

His GP agreed to his request for a PSA test without much discussion.

His GP agreed to his request for a PSA test without much discussion.

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Did you look at the Internet at all before you decided to have the test?

Not specifically about this no I think I'd already sort of, I felt that I was sufficiently informed. And I should also may be say, I mean I didn't go to my GP asking if I should have a test, I went more on the basis of thinking I may as well have one. I have little occasion to visit my GP but thought that I would. And when I basically said to him I thought you know may be I'd have a PSA test you know his attitude was a bit like 'Well yes you know you're of the age when these kind of things are good.' He didn't particularly question if I thought I was ill or nor did he, he didn't try to persuade me to have it or not to have it, he just basically said, 'Well if you think that would be a good idea fine let's do that.'

Did he offer you any written information about the PSA test?

No, no he didn't. We didn't really discuss it in more detail, I mean to be fair I didn't ask for more, I didn't ask for an explanation about exactly what it, how it worked or what it said. 'I read up on that a bit, I think he knows that I have, that I do medical work and perhaps made the assumption that I probably did some of the homework on my own. So I didn't ask for a lot of background or details, as I say I didn't particularly ask for advice on whether the test would be a good idea, whether he thought I should have it, it was more a case of me suggesting it and him agreeing.

Okay so you didn't, he didn't bring up any advantages or disadvantages of having a test, it was more or less alright?

Yes it was businesslike if you like. He didn't, he didn't raise issues in relation to, for or against really he, it was, he just seemed to take it in his stride as the kind of thing that men of my age should probably have.

 

Says the PSA test is a normal blood test but is concerned about possible false positive results.

Says the PSA test is a normal blood test but is concerned about possible false positive results.

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Well I don't think anybody should be afraid of having it [a PSA test], as it's only a normal blood test. I think you know may be for some people when you say the prostate and it's a test for prostate problems they think that the test involves some squeamish, you know, invasive test on their genitals or something and they don't even realise it's a blood test. I mean I think one has to not assume anything and not assume that people know what a test involves you know. I mean

What did it involve exactly can you explain? 

Well it just involved sitting there with the nurse and rolling up my sleeve and having, and she's one of the best nurses I've ever met, I mean she manages to take blood before you even realise she's actually done anything, it's quite remarkable. But most practice nurses are very skilled in that regard, much better than GPs I should say, in my experience. So I think that you know, no one should be put off. I mean it's the same, it's just as straight forward as having a blood test for anything else there's nothing horrible about it and I think it probably is that sort of thing that people should consider even if they don't have symptoms just because it gives you that peace of mind. Having said that though I mean obviously there needs to be a lot of, there needs to be something more done to kind of confirm this issue of false positives and being very careful not to send people into some sort of treatment route or even other invasive investigations based on what might actually be an inaccurate reading. I mean it's interesting that you're pointing out the thing about exercise and having sex and things because that certainly wasn't, I mean this is the first time I've heard that and it would be rather alarming if I'd had a raised reading for some, some reason as innocuous as that. So I think that is a bit of failing really on the part of the practitioner and I think that's something that people should pay a lot of attention to.

 

The GP told him that his PSA result was in the middle of the normal range.

The GP told him that his PSA result was in the middle of the normal range.

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How were the results of the PSA test given to you?

Well they were given to me in a very, how could I say it, informally. I mean it was in a GP consultation but it wasn't, I never had them in writing if you see what I mean. I might have done if I hadn't been making an appointment to go in for them.

But you went to see the GP and talked face to face?

Yeah and it was just a quite straightforward piece of information. 'Oh yes and your result was,' you know whatever he told me, 2.1 or something, 'And that's very good, that's fine.' He explained a bit about the range that one you know finds in healthy people and that that was kind of smack in the middle of that so that was just fine and that was really the end of it. We didn't, he didn't particularly suggest a follow-up, you know I mean presumably he'll leave that to me, you know it was my idea in the first place so may be in another five years time he'll think, or I'll think well may be I should have another one.

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