Jeffrey Archer reveals battle with prostate cancer

Novelist describes 'short, sharp shock' of four-hour operation following diagnosis last year

The novelist and former MP Jeffrey Archer has revealed that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer late last year.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday over the weekend, Archer said that, after a blood test showed a "slightly" high Prostate Specific Antigen level, and a subsequent biopsy, he was given the diagnosis by his doctor at Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge. He chose to have an operation in which the whole prostate and the cancer would be removed, rather than go through radiotherapy, said Archer, preferring "a short, sharp shock rather than a longer-term experience with repeated hospital visits".

"The other major difference between operation or radiotherapy is the effect it may have on your sex life. If you have the operation, you will become infertile," wrote the author. "So if you still want children (not a problem for me at the age of 74), you will have to opt for radiotherapy. You may also become impotent, though with the help of Viagra you can still experience the same sensation."

Warning "the squeamish to turn the page", the bestselling novelist went on to write of his four-hour operation, his experience wearing a catheter and a bag for a week, and his subsequent temporary incontinence.

"For a week I had been peeing happily away, like a child, not giving a great deal of thought to it, so the brain and body had already accommodated themselves to a new routine, which they were quite happy to continue without consulting me," wrote Archer.

"For the next seven days, you become a baby again and need to wear a large nappy to make sure that if you can't get to the loo in time you won't water the carpet and everything else on the way. And just like a child, you have to learn to control yourself. For this you need another specialist, a physiotherapist, who will teach you to do exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor – a part of my anatomy I didn't know existed until then."

Archer, who published his first novel, Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less, in 1975, said he had since joined Men United, the prostate cancer charity, and was "proud to support Prostate Cancer UK, because if I die before the age of 88, the diagnosis won't be prostate cancer".

Contributor

Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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