For years, while living in Canada, Joseph Lam Boon Wai got a regular health check-up, including a blood test for prostate cancer. Each time theresults put him in the clear.
Prostate cancer survivor Joseph Lam. He talks to other men about his experience battling the disease and tells them regular check-ups are essential. Photo: Hong Kong Cancer Fund
The test he had – a PSA test – measures levels of a protein, prostate-specific antigen. A high score denotes a high chance of cancer.
Lam, a former banker, returned to Hong Kong 12 years ago to spend his retirement in the city. In 2011, he started to feel off key, and experienced more frequent urination. A doctor in Hong Kong suspected this was due to Lam’s age, 64 at the time. He did a PSA test anyway, and it fell within the normal range, but physical examination of the prostate gland gave the doctor, and Lam, cause for concern.
“The doctor found my prostate a little bit hard and suspected cancer,” Lam recalls. A biopsy confirmed he did indeed have prostate cancer, the third most common cancer to afflict men in Hong Kong.
“I was lucky it was the early stage. That’s why I tell people: men who are over 50 or 65, you should check your PSA more frequently,” says Lam, now 72. If detected early, there is a high chance of recovery. He urges men not to brush off symptoms such as frequent urination as an age-related issue. “It could be a sign of prostate cancer.”