Suffolk: How reading the East Anglian Daily Times could save your life

IT was just another Saturday morning for businessman Robert Helyer and as always, he picked up his copy of the East Anglian Daily Times.

But it would be the most important read of his life.

As he perused the pages, Mr Helyer’s eyes were drawn to an article in the EADT’s health supplement about a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer.

It was written by John McLouglin, consultant urologist at BMI St Edmunds Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds.

During a subsequent appointment with his GP about an unrelated matter, Mr Helyer asked about the test and, as he fitted into the age demographic, he was given the go-ahead to undergo tests.

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The test came back identifying that four of the 12 samples taken showed signs of cancer and he was immediately sent for further tests.

Mr Helyer, 65, from Copdock, near Ipswich, was presented with several options and chose to undergo the brachytherapy treatment and is now making a good recovery.

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And following on from Mr Heyler’s successful course of treatment, his brother-in-law Mick Hird, 58, also got tested and also gave positive results. He is now undergoing treatment and, as he is in the early stages of the disease, has a strong chance of making a good recovery.

“I feel very strongly that the article saved my life,” said Mr Helyer. “My brother-in-law was nagged by my sister to have a test as well. Because it’s been found at an early stage, it can be treated.

“I read the article in the EADT on prostate cancer which I thought sounded interesting, I was 64 then and went to my doctor about a chest infection and I said ‘what about this PSA?’ and he said he was all for it and an appointment to come in and see him.

“I then went to see a specialist at Ipswich Hospital and had tests and a biopsy and it came back and the first words were ‘it’s not good news’.

“I had no symptoms or problems and I could have got further down the road and they would have said to me ‘you’ve got problems now’.”

Mr Helyer is now recovering from treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and is thankful that the cancer was caught early.

Mr Hird said people in the right age bracket had “nothing to lose” by getting themselves tested, even if they are not showing any signs of the disease.

He said: “I must say my wife Jane said to me on three occasions (to get tested) but like men do, I said ‘Oh yes, I will get around to it’. What have you got to lose though? You either get piece of mind or an early warning.”

Consultant urologist Mr McLoughlin, who wrote the article, said: “An increasing proportion of prostate cancer is found in mean who have no related symptoms and who ask for a PSA test either because of a newspaper article, or alternatively who have a friend who has recently been diagnosed.

“While some of the symptoms associated with it include difficulty urinating or perhaps back pain, it should be remembered that most men with these do not have prostate cancer.

“There are a range if treatment options for men with prostate cancer. Fortunately there is also a wealth of high quality information availabler to guide them in making their choices.’”

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