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‘Months of anxiety’ – Ex-councillor reveals toll of prostate cancer tests

Tests for prostate cancer can take many months (Newcastle University/PA)
Tests for prostate cancer can take many months (Newcastle University/PA)

A retired councillor has said he endured 18 months of anxiety before he was declared clear of prostate cancer.

Richard Westlake, 74, was first alerted in November 2015 that his night-time trips to the toilet may be a sign of the condition, combined with a raised prostate specific antigen test.

Mr Westlake, from Exeter, then faced months of hospital visits, first for a biopsy, then for a more invasive biopsy procedure, along with X-rays and a combination of other tests, each followed by an anguished wait for the result.

The retired councillor underwent 18 months of tests for prostate cancer before being given the all-clear (University of Exeter)
The retired councillor underwent 18 months of tests for prostate cancer before being given the all-clear (University of Exeter/PA)

The retired Devon county councillor and train driver was finally given the all-clear in June 2017 after a second biopsy.

“I was quite surprised to be honest,” he said of the result.

“I’d been expecting it to be positive, all that time. But I wasn’t celebrating – I’d been through a very difficult time, with all that testing, waiting, unpleasantness and anxiety.

“I knew it had to be done, and all the staff I met were brilliant, but it was a horrible, drawn-out experience.

“Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, and you think of all the hours of NHS time and resource going into this testing.

“If this new way of assessing patients could cut down on the number of men who have to experience that, I think it would have huge benefits, both to patients and to the NHS.”