At the beginning of 2010, Simon Delow, 59, thought that the pain in his groin and lower back which he experienced when driving was down to a strain. “I go to the gym regularly, so thought I’d pulled something,” said Mr Delow, “but the pain just wouldn’t go away.” Mr Delow, a married grandfather-of-three from Chigwell, Essex, normally enjoyed good health. He was not one to go to his GP unless absolutely necessary, but thought he should get the persistent pain checked out - especially since he already had an enlarged prostate and was on medication.
At first, Mr Delow’s GP suspected that he may have a kidney infection and prescribed a course of antibiotics. But, after completing the course, the pain was still there. His GP then examined his prostate and requested a PSA test – the examination confirmed that his prostate was much enlarged and his PSA levels (which were raised anyway due to his existing prostate condition) were even higher than normal. Mr Delow was then referred immediately by his GP to Mr Bhanot, Consultant Urologist at Spire Roding Hospital.
On examining Mr Delow’s prostate and testing his PSA levels, Mr Bhanot confirmed the GP’s findings. In fact, not only was the prostate very enlarged, a biopsy showed that there were 3 tumours on it.
“Mr Bhanot was incredibly caring and sensitive – after giving me the news about the tumours, he carefully outlined the options to me,” said Mr Delow. Mr Bhanot explains “I advised Mr Delow that he could have surgery or radiotherapy straight away or we could monitor the tumours for a few years and see what happened.”
Mr Delow didn’t have to think twice. “I opted for surgery straight away”, he said “otherwise I felt like I’d be living with a time bomb.” As an only child, Mr Delow was very concerned about how he was going to break the news to his 85-year old mother. “My mum is a widow, and I didn’t relish the prospect of telling her that I had cancer of the prostate as I knew she would be scared.”
Staff at Spire Roding Hospital ensured that Mr Delow got the prompt treatment he needed, and he was admitted on 31 March, just a week after his diagnosis. Mr Bhanot operated on his patient using a technique called ‘single centimetre port laparoscopic radical prostatectomy’. Mr Bhanot and his team of doctors and nurses have helped to develop this minimally invasive advance in laparoscopic surgery, which offers the potential of less pain and trauma for the patient.
Although the operation went smoothly, Mr Bhanot had some surprising news for Mr Delow. “The average prostate is about the size of a walnut. Mr Delow’s weighed more than 100 grams, and was about the size of a cricket ball! It was one of the largest prostates I have ever surgically removed”, said Mr Bhanot
After a short hospital stay of 72 hours, Mr Delow returned home with a portable catheter. “It was a bit strange at first, but I quickly got used it and was walking around comfortably within a few days. I really had no significant problems when I came home, and recovered very well.”
A week later, he returned to see Mr Bhanot at Spire Roding, who tested Mr Delow’s healing of the anastomosis (the place where the bladder and urethra are joined together using fine sutures after surgery). His bladder control was tested and found to be good. Mr Delow said, “I was worried that I wouldn’t know when I needed to go to the toilet, but with the assurance of the nursing staff, I knew exactly when I needed to go and the flow was amazing… I’ve never had it so good!”
Five months down the line, Mr Delow is fully continent and in complete control of his bladder. He is also able to enjoy a satisfying sex life, and is adjusting well to the changes in sexual function that usually follow prostate cancer surgery. “Everything is much better than I expected - and so soon after surgery. I was told that some men take 3 years to regain all of their functions, and that some men don’t - so I feel very lucky.”
Mrs Delow added, “From both of our points of view, our sex life is just as good, if not even better than before.”
The consultant explains, “Mr Delow has enjoyed the normal benefits of laparoscopic radical prostatectomy - namely, preservation of bodily functions after removal of the prostate gland, including good bladder control and erectile function. I would urge all men to regularly check their prostates, particularly if they are over 40 years of age”.
As a Freemason, Mr Delow is in a position to talk to lots of other men about his experience of prostate cancer. “At the Lodge, I tell all of my friends to get themselves checked out, especially if they’re over a ‘certain age’ and have any symptoms. And I tell them that if they do have symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek help."