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Anthony McKenna

Brachytherapy real stories

Anthony McKenna known as ‘Mac’, is a structural test engineer and lives in Leven, Yorkshire, UK. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May 2009 after a routine PSA (prostate specific antigen) check returned an abnormally high result of 8.4. His doctor referred him to a specialist who confirmed that he had prostate cancer.

Mac was surprised to learn of his diagnosis as he showed none of the symptoms typically associated with the condition – it was only the PSA test that indicated that he might have cancer.

As with many patients who are first told that they have cancer, Mac experienced a rollercoaster of emotions and it took some time to come to terms with the diagnosis. The question ‘why me?’ ran through his mind while he tried to rationalize what he had been told.

When talking through the various treatment options with his specialist, Mac decided that surgery was not an option. He was worried about the long recovery time as he is self-employed and it would mean a prolonged period of not being able to work.

However, Mac’s specialist had mentioned that brachytherapy might be an option. Mac researched brachytherapy on the internet and saw a news item on his regional TV station of a team in nearby Leeds that carried out low dose rate (LDR) permanent seed implant brachytherapy. Brachytherapy appealed to Mac due to the shorter treatment time. After discussions with his specialist, he decided to go for high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy treatment.

Mac initially had 3 months of hormone treatment to prevent the cancer progressing, followed by 15 sessions of external beam radiotherapy (EBRT). He then had his brachytherapy treatment in October 2009. Mac had his first brachytherapy procedure on a Wednesday and his second treatment two days later on Friday, both under general anaesthetic. Mac was then home by Sunday. Just 7 days after his first brachytherapy procedure, Mac was able to do some work from home.

Mac experienced very little pain before, during or after the procedure. Some minor swelling directly following the procedure caused some slight discomfort but this subsided after a couple of weeks. By the time of his 6 week check up, Mac had almost made a complete recovery and 6 months later his PSA levels were within the normal range and he is currently doing well.

Mac would actively encourage anyone who has cancer to talk to their clinician about brachytherapy as a potential treatment option. So much so, that one of his friends who was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer has decided to have brachytherapy because he saw what a quick recovery Mac has made.