“Test that saved Ben Stiller’s life also saved mine”

Photo Neil Cross
Ray Panzer, of Fulwood, in remission from prostate cancer
Photo Neil Cross Ray Panzer, of Fulwood, in remission from prostate cancer
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Hollywood star Ben Stiller recently opened up about his battle with prostate cancer at the age of 48 and how a screening test saved his life. AASMA DAY talks to Lancashire grandad Ray Panzer about his prostate cancer journey and finds out about a screening event for early detection of the disease

WHEN Ray Panzer found himself waking up around 14 times a night to go to the toilet, he knew there must be something wrong.

Photo Neil Cross
Ray Panzer, of Fulwood, in remission from prostate cancer, with Dolly the Frug

Photo Neil Cross Ray Panzer, of Fulwood, in remission from prostate cancer, with Dolly the Frug

Ray, 69, who lives in Fulwood, Preston, with wife Carol, explains: “I was going to the toilet at night to urinate frequently and I knew I was going far more often than was normal.

“This had probably been going on about a year and then I decided there must be something wrong so I went to see my GP, who was brilliant all the way through my journey.”

Ray, who is a retired welder and has four grandchildren, underwent a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test. This is a blood test that can detect the early signs of an enlarged prostate.

It is the most common initial test for men who are worried about prostate cancer. It measures the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood.

In this publicity image released by NBC, actor Ben Stiller appears on the "Today" show to talk about his new Broadway play "The House Of Blue Leaves," Wednesday, April 20, 2011 in New York. Stiller announced that he is partnering with New York City art dealer David Zwirner on a benefit auction called 'Artists for Haiti,' scheduled for Sept. 22, 2011 at Christie's auction house in New York. Some of the artists who have donated works include Chuck Close, Paul McCarthy, Jasper Johns, Dan Flavin and Jeff Koons. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

In this publicity image released by NBC, actor Ben Stiller appears on the "Today" show to talk about his new Broadway play "The House Of Blue Leaves," Wednesday, April 20, 2011 in New York. Stiller announced that he is partnering with New York City art dealer David Zwirner on a benefit auction called 'Artists for Haiti,' scheduled for Sept. 22, 2011 at Christie's auction house in New York. Some of the artists who have donated works include Chuck Close, Paul McCarthy, Jasper Johns, Dan Flavin and Jeff Koons. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

PSA is a protein made only by the prostate gland. Some of it will leak into the blood and the amount depends on the man’s age and the health of their prostate.

If a man is aged 50 to 69, their PSA level is considered raised if it’s 3ng/ml or higher.

A raised PSA level in the blood may be a sign of prostate cancer. However, other conditions, such as an enlarged prostate, prostatitis or a urinary infection, can also cause a raised PSA level.

Ray’s test showed his PSA level had risen to 7.68. He was sent for a biopsy which confirmed he had prostate cancer.

Ray says: “Luckily, the cancer had not gone out of the prostate and was not aggressive.

“It was then my decision as to whether I had surgery or radiotherapy.

“I decided on radiotherapy because I had already had another cancer, Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, in 2006 and I had radiotherapy for that.

“I had 37 sessions of radiotherapy in November and December 2013.

“Things have been relatively fine ever since and it is now coming up three years since my diagnosis.

“I think it is important for men to have a PSA test because some people who experience these symptoms might not go to the doctor.

“I decided I needed to do something about it and I bit the bullet and went to the doctors.

“However, some men may dismiss their symptoms or not experience any symptoms.

“At the moment, there is no NHS screening programme for prostrate cancer.”

There is currently no national screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK due to a debate about the accuracy of the PSA test.

However, all men over the age of 50 can access quality information about the PSA test and discuss the option of having a free test with their GP as part of a scheme called the prostate cancer risk management programme (PCRMP).

Under PCRMP, your GP will be expected to discuss with the benefits, limitations and risks of the PSA test to help men decide whether or not to have it.

Actor Ben Stiller’s story has reignited the debate surrounding whether there should be a screening programme for prostate cancer.

Ben Stiller has told how his doctor started monitoring the levels of PSA in his blood when he was 46. At the age of 48, the now 50-year-old was found to have rising PSA numbers and was diagnosed with a “mid-range aggressive cancer.”

He underwent surgery and is now cancer-free and says taking the PSA test saved his life.

• THE Walnut Group is a Preston-based patient carer group for people affected with prostate cancer.

The group meets every first Wednesday in the month at Vine House on Cromwell Road, Ribbleton, Preston.

The Walnut Group aims to help people who have been newly diagnosed with prostate cancer and their carers by sharing their experiences.

The group also carries out awareness presentations at events.

They aim to encourage the awareness of having PSA tests so early actions can be taken if 
necessary.

Men are encouraged to show the red card to prostate cancer by undergoing the potentially life saving blood test for £5 at an event being held at Preston North End Football Club on Saturday November 12.

The PSA testing event will take place in The Invincibles Lounge at the football club on Lowthorpe Road, Deepdale, Preston from 10am to 1pm.

Entrance to the lounge is via the south executive entrance. Free parking is available on the Invincibles car park on Lowthorpe Road.

The screening is being promoted by The Walnut Group, the local Prostate Cancer support group.

For more details, contact the chairman of The Walnut Group Colin Piddington on: 01254 852555.