An annual health check identified my prostate cancer

John Deans shares his story

John's story

In September 2019, John Deans went for his annual health screen - offered as part of his employer Rothschild & Co’s health scheme. John was seemingly a fit and healthy 59-year-old with no signs or symptoms that suggested otherwise. However, in fact, this health screen prompted further tests, where it was discovered that John had prostate cancer. Here, John speaks about his experience at London Bridge Hospital, and highlights just how important it was that he chose to attend his annual health screen. 

John was offered a routine annual screen through his employer, which he decided to go for “for peace of mind and reassurance”. The first part of his screening process was an appointment with Dr Niaz Khan, (GP at Roodlane Medical, part of HCA Healthcare UK), where he underwent blood tests, gave a urine sample, was physically examined and discussed his family history in the context of health. Through this screen, John was also able to access a deeper level of diagnostics, including a number of scans. After talking through the options with Dr Khan, John opted for ‘the full works’ screen as he wanted to leave no stone unturned. 

Receiving his diagnosis

Within seven days he saw Mr Cahill and underwent a biopsy – which revealed that John did in fact have prostate cancer. As a urological surgeon, Mr Cahill recommended that the prostate was removed, but also encouraged him to make an informed choice.

John added: “Mr Cahill was very upfront and honest from the outset. He believed the best way to treat this was surgery, but wanted me to explore my options. He also put me in touch with some of his previous patients who had a similar diagnosis to me, so that I could talk through why they decided to opt for surgery. I was informed that with surgery, there is a small risk of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, but after speaking to Mr Cahill’s previous patients, so many said to me that they simply wanted the prostate to be removed to give them peace of mind and then they would worry about anything else afterwards. I was of a similar mindset and therefore decided to push ahead with the surgery with Mr Cahill.”

The day of John's surgery

John underwent a robotic prostatectomy (prostate removal) in January 2020 at London Bridge Hospital. Mr Cahill used the Da Vinci Surgical System to carry out the surgery – a state-of-the-art robot controlled by Mr Cahill from a console. The precision of this keyhole techniques means that the nerves can be spared, and it can help reduce recovery time. The risk of impotence or incontinence, which is associated with more ‘open’ techniques, is also reduced.

John’s surgery was a complete success. Commenting on the care he received, John added: “When I woke up, Mr Cahill was sitting at the end of my bed, ready to reassure me about the success of the procedure. I couldn’t fault the care that he provided, particularly in the way he was in the lead-up to my surgery. He helped join the dots up between consultants and various specialists. I even had a separate neck problem prior to my surgery, and he ensured that I was seen my someone before my prostate surgery. I was absolutely bowled over by the speed and the responsiveness of all of the specialists – the hospital really had that campus feel, something from which I really benefitted.”

On the road to a full recovery

John stayed at London Bridge Hospital for two nights following his surgery, before being discharged. He went home with a catheter fitted – which then was successfully removed after 10 days. As part of his recovery, six weeks later he came back to London Bridge Hospital to undergo regular physiotherapy, as the operation can cause some internal bruising.

Before having the operation, John was slightly concerned about the risk of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, but he had little to worry about post-surgery. He comments: “With regards to urinary incontinence, if anything it’s probably an improvement on what I was like prior to the operation! It’s like Mr Cahill has put a new washer on a leaky tap – so no complaints there. With the potential risk of erectile dysfunction, recovery is a longer process, but I’m doing well!”

He adds: “Since my surgery, I’ve had a PSA test every three months and the PSA is undetectable, which is fantastic news. I will now undergo a PSA test twice a year, and then back down to once every year as long as everything remains fine.”

His advice on screening

On how important it is to get screened, John concludes: “I am incredibly fortunate that Rothschilds has this health screening package. Without the scan, the cancer could have spread, and I might not have known about it until possibly at my next annual check. When I told my colleagues about my experience, some of them didn’t know that they were entitled to these health screens, and the others who knew they were entitled hadn’t booked in for one. I am now urging people to get screened and make use of their private medical insurance.”

Dr Niaz Khan added: “Cancer which is diagnosed at an early stage, when it isn’t too large and hasn’t spread, is more likely to be treated successfully. By attending regular screens for health conditions, you could really positively impact your long-term health. It’s so important that health issues are detected early.” 

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