Barry Lienert is a Founding Member as well as a Life Member of Cancer Care Centre. Here he talks about his cancer journey.

My first experience with cancer was when I was diagnosed with colon cancer with secondaries in April 1984. At the time I was in my mid-40s and decided that to help myself I needed to look to my own healing path. I fortunately came across Ian Gawler and followed his methods of meditation, visualisation, change of diet, reducing stress levels etc. etc.

This proved to me that it was possible while working within the medical system to be able to help yourself.

My second experience with cancer was being diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and more than 19,000 men are diagnosed each year. About 3,300 Australians died of prostate cancer last year. An Australian man has a one in five risk of developing prostate cancer by age 85. The risk is at least doubled for men with a father or brother who had the disease.

I was fortunate that I learned about another test taken in conjunction with your PSA test that is called Free to Total. This test is not widely used in Australia yet is a useful predictor of prostate cancer.

The normal method of diagnosing the cancer is to have a PSA blood test and a rectal examination.

PSA is measured to help detect the cancer and also to monitor the response to treatment in those with prostate cancer. In my case my total PSA reading was 5.1 and there were no problems with a rectal examination. As a consequence it was deemed that I was not suffering from prostate cancer.

Free to Total

I was fortunate that I learned about another test taken in conjunction with your PSA test that is called Free to Total. This test is not widely used in Australia yet is a useful predictor of prostate cancer. It was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration showing that it is effective for that purpose and is safe. However, it is more accurate in men whose total PSA values are between 4 and 10.

The medium marker for a Free to Total reading is 20. So if you have a reading of under 20, there is a greater possibility you will be involved with prostate cancer. If you have a reading over 20 there is a greater possibility you will not be involved with prostate cancer.

As with all medical tests there is no guarantee.

When my next test was due I requested that the doctor include a Free to Total test which he did.

When I received the PSA test it showed that the ratio was 8 and that increases the probability that prostate carcinoma is present.

The report went on to read: from data currently available, a ratio of 8 is most likely associated with carcinoma where as a ratio over 20 is most likely associated with prostatic hyperplasia.

The result was, I immediately had a prostate biopsy done and it was discovered that I had prostate cancer.

I subsequently had the prostate removed but unfortunately there was a small margin in the biopsy and my PSA began to rise again very slowly. I have subsequently had 7½ weeks of radiotherapy and so far my PSA reading is clear.

My advice would be to always ask for a Free to Total with your PSA test.

Editor’s noteThe Cancer Care Centre does not give medical advice or opinion. In all cases members are urged to seek professional medical opinion or opinions regarding their health matters which may include tests, diagnosis and treatment options.