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How a pre-knee op assessment saved my life

June 17 2019

When Paul Gidley, 62, from Ernesettle in Plymouth attended Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre for an assessment for a knee operation, little did he know that the appointment would save his life.

Paul’s appointment at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre was at the beginning of January 2018. For some time beforehand he had been experiencing urinary problems, especially frequent trips to the toilet. “It was keeping me up at night and affecting my work,” said Paul. “I was working with a friend who is a builder, physically active work, and I was running to the toilet often and this wasn’t ideal.”

He visited his GP before Christmas 2017 and had a PSA test and standard examination for prostate problems. His PSA levels were slightly raised but the examination found no abnormalities, so he was put on a drug treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Paul’s appointment at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre was to assess him for a partial replacement of his left knee. Pre-operation appointments at Peninsula incorporate meetings with the full care team and a range of tests, including blood tests. Outpatient nurse Lesley Burdon spotted that Paul’s PSA levels were worryingly high.

Paul received a phone call from the team at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre to let him know that his surgery would have to be postponed because his PSA levels were quite high, and strongly recommending that he should see his GP urgently.

“Because of the seriousness of this advice I contacted my GP immediately,” Paul said. “They referred me to the urology department at Derriford as a matter of urgency. Tests I had done there showed that although there was no spread of the cancer, I had an aggressive prostate cancer tumour which required surgery.”

Paul underwent a radical prostatectomy which removed most of the tumour but which could not reach all of it because of its position. As a result, Paul has undergone 33 sessions of external beam radiotherapy which came to an end this January and hormone therapy treatment which is ongoing. His PSA levels continue to decrease as a result of his surgery and treatment and he is in controlled remission.

He is now back at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre preparing for a total knee replacement.

Paul commented: “I am immensely grateful to the team at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre for spotting my raised PSA levels and insisting that I saw my GP – their actions saved me from more advanced prostate cancer and probably saved my life.”

He added: “My diagnosis came at about the same time as Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull went public about their prostate cancers, and when it was identified as the biggest cancer killer, so there was a lot of discussion about it. While my surgery left me with some nerve damage and erectile dysfunction, which I might have avoided if it had been caught earlier, I am certain that if the cancer had been left for longer it would have spread and the consequences for me would have been more dire. As the father of a two-year old I feel that I’ve got my life back.”

Paul is full of praise for the support he has received: “From the urology team at Derriford, to practical advice from the Mustard Tree Cancer Support Centre and the Chestnut Appeal, my loved ones and I have been given great support through what has been a worrying time. But I don’t know what would have happened without the swift prompt from the team at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre. I would have received treatment later on in the development of the cancer and the outcome would not have been so good. Whatever the Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre health team does it has a massive influence on life – not just for the operation you’re going in for, but also for wider health issues. I can’t thank them enough.”

Paul is now looking forward to having his knee replaced later this summer, so that he can get back to an active lifestyle, to work and to a healthy future with his young family.

Nicola Law, Outpatient Department Manager at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre, commented: “We carry out a wide range of planned surgery, such as knee replacements, and it is important for us and our patients that we fully assess their health before their operation. This is why we have full pre-operation assessments and carry out a number of tests, so that we can be sure that our patients are in the best shape for surgery. It was during one of these assessments that we spotted Paul’s PSA levels were quite high, and why my colleague Lesley Burdon contacted him and insisted he see his GP straight away. Paul did the right thing by taking our advice and, while he has had a year of intense surgery and treatment, we are pleased that he is in controlled remission and able to return to us for his knee replacement.”

Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre welcomed its first NHS patients in April 2005. Tens of thousands of patients have received top quality care at the hospital for orthopaedic surgery (minor and major), hernia repair and gall bladder removal, cataract treatment, endoscopy and diagnostic imaging (such as X-rays).

The hospital was the first of its kind to achieve an overall ‘Outstanding’ rating from the Care Quality Commission and it recently achieved Joint Advisory Group accreditation at the first attempt for its endoscopy service.