“Early Diagnosis has saved two lives in my family!”

In March, Dheeresh was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Here, he shares his story about joining a cancer research study, robotic surgery, and the importance of early cancer diagnosis.

Dheeresh holding his grandson
Dheeresh with his Grandson

In 2020, Dheeresh received an unexpected letter through the door from his local GP. The letter was inviting men over 60 to take part in a cancer research study. The aim of the study was to increase early detection and diagnosis of prostate cancer by exploring how genetic profiles could be used to identify men with a high risk of developing cancer.

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This is Dheeresh’s story.

"Once I agreed to go onto the trial, I underwent some tests. When my results came back, I was sent a letter to say I was in the top genetic risk category, and I was referred to The Royal Marsden.

In March this year I went and saw Dr Liz Bancroft from the Urology team. She talked me through what would happen next, and I did a PSA test.” (A PSA test looks at the level of prostate specific antigen present in the blood and can help to detect cancer.)

When the results came back, the hospital got back in touch to say they had found something. I went to The Royal Marsden in Chelsea for a biopsy, and it was confirmed - I had prostate cancer. I was told that a relatively low PSA score can still be harbouring a life-threatening tumour if the person falls in a certain genetic group. I am in this group and never knew! I have a family history of cancer but not prostate cancer.”

I was so shocked as I had absolutely no symptoms at all and would never have known this diagnosis so early on if it wasn't for joining the trial. If it hadn't been discovered at that stage, I could have been in a really bad way later down the line.

Dheeresh underwent surgery at The Royal Marsden using a surgical robot called the daVinci. These pioneering robots,  funded by our supporters, allow surgeons to perform highly complex operations with greater accuracy and control, and mean minimal scarring, and faster recovery times for patients. Through his surgery, Dheeresh's cancer was successfully removed. Six months on, Dheeresh is still being monitored - he is doing well, and his PSA score remains low.

Saving a second life

"I'm very happy that my cancer was discovered so early on – I now have no life-threatening tumours inside me and I’m still here. Thank heavens I joined the trial!

Deeresh and his two brothers
Dheeresh (left) with his two brothers.

Given the importance of genetics here, I contacted my brothers about what had happened to me. My youngest brother Joel, who would have been too young to join the study directly, signed up and discovered that he also had an aggressive tumour in the prostate. He is now recovering from his operation at the Royal Marsden - So two lives have now been saved in this family!

I would encourage other men to join trials like this - to stay alive! It's so brilliant that through genetic makeup they can then predict how likely it is that you're at risk.”

An early cancer diagnosis can save lives. When a patient’s cancer is discovered early there is a much greater chance of being able to treat the disease successfully, they could avoid invasive surgeries and experience fewer long term side effects. At The Royal Marsden our teams work tirelessly to improve early detection so that everyone can be fast-tracked to the tests, specialist advice and treatment they need.

This Christmas, help our brilliant teams go even further for people with cancer.

From funding the latest equipment, to groundbreaking research, your support helps cancer patients and their families when they need it most.

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Written by

A portrait image of Dheeresh wearing glasses and a yellow jumper
Dheeresh Turnbull
Patient and supporter

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