JEFF Hoober has a message for men having PSA tests done: Get a second and third opinion before embarking on biopsies and treatment.

The 69-year-old Maryborough man says surgery to remove his prostate five years ago left him impotent, partly incontinent and angry about the way he was treated.

He said a rising PSA reading around four caused him to have a biopsy, which diagnosed cancer with a Gleason score of six. This led doctors to recommend surgery without a full explanation of the risks.

”My urologist did not provide me with any proper counselling,” Mr Hoober said. ”It wasn’t stressed to me that the chance of nerves being damaged was greater than them not being damaged.”

In a terrible chain of events, Mr Hoober says he was told after the surgery that he did not have cancer after all.

”I couldn’t believe it, it was devastating,” he said.

While urologists say Mr Hoober’s experience is very rare, they acknowledged Gleason scores can change between biopsy and pathology tests after the prostate has been removed, giving men a different estimate of how aggressive their cancer is likely to be. This level of accuracy depends on the pathologists’ experience, they said.

While urologists said a man like Mr Hoober would be advised to take a surveillance approach with the knowledge they have today, he suspects some surgeons are too eager to operate.

”It begs the question of how the urologists’ income has been going. I bet there’s been an enormous increase in surgery since Sam Newman went public.”

Mr Hoober said he had mixed feelings about testing now and felt biopsies put men in a difficult position.

”We’re so shit scared when we hear the word cancer. All you can think of is I need to get this out of my body,” he said.Rather the risk than suffering a painful death

PROSTATE cancer has been an unfortunate family affair for Mark Sheehan who says testing and treatment will probably save his life.

All of the school principal’s brothers, including AFL talent manager Kevin Sheehan, have been diagnosed with prostate cancer in recent years at ages 60, 61 and 63.

All of them had Gleason scores indicating high-risk cancer.

Mr Sheehan, 57, has suffered the same fate. Having been diagnosed with a high Gleason score of seven recently, he is now preparing to follow his brothers, who all had their prostates removed after a similar diagnosis.

While debate rages about the accuracy of testing and the damaging side effects of treatment, Mr Sheehan said he would much rather have his prostate removed and live with the risk of side effects from surgery than die the slow and painful death he heard stories about when he was growing up.

”If I had a lower Gleason score, I wouldn’t be lining up for surgery and I would be keeping a watching brief. I can’t say I’m gladly looking forward to August 15 [his surgery date], but I have to trust my GP and surgeon,” he said.

”I also have the experience of my brothers who are are all out in the community and dry, so to speak. They are all living full lives and not dragging their feet around.”

Despite suggestions prostate cancer management has been influenced by commercial interests, Mr Sheehan said he felt as though he had adequate counselling at the Epworth Hospital to decide on robotic surgery at the private hospital.

”It’s very personal, it will be different for everyone, but I feel medically very well informed,” he said.

Mr Sheehan believes his family’s experience of prostate cancer showed PSA testing was still valuable for picking up high-risk cancers early.

His recent diagnosis has caused him to urge men over 50 to take an annual test.

”Early detection and treatment are essential,” he said.

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