Hugh O'Rourke
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“I was in with my GP getting blood tests in May 2022 and it transpired that my PSA had risen."

- Hugh

In late January of this year, Hugh O’Rourke was diagnosed with prostate cancer. As the 81-year-old from Carlow explains, there were earlier indications of his eventual diagnosis. 

“I was in with my GP getting blood tests in May 2022 and it transpired that my PSA had risen to 3,” says Hugh. Although this was a rise for Hugh, it was still in keeping within a normal range for a man of his age, and the GP brought him back for more tests in September. This time, his PSA was 5.

“I was referred to a urologist, who did a flow test and an ultrasound scan and told me to come back in six months,” Hugh explains. “Before the six months had passed, there was another round of GP tests and the PSA had now risen to 7.”

He returned to his urologist who referred him for a non-urgent MRI, which Hugh had in June 2023. “I heard nothing back and I thought no news is good news,” he says. “I maintained that attitude until November, when I had to go back to the GP for more tests, and I thought, ‘He’s going to ask me about the urologist.” 

Getting the results of Hugh’s MRI needed the intervention of his GP before he finally got them. It transpired that the MRI had revealed nodules and a biopsy, scheduled for late December was the next step. 

On January 31st of this year, Hugh was told that the cells were cancerous and that his Gleason score was 4+4, which indicated that the cancer could potentially grow quickly. 

Following a further bone and tissue scan, and more stern prompting from his GP, he began his treatment. Hugh recently finished 30 days of hormone tablets; has had the first of eight three-monthly hormone injections and five of a total of 25 radiotherapy sessions. “Despite the high-risk nature of my tumour, my oncologist is confident the cancer can be controlled,” he says. 

Hugh used the Irish Cancer Society’s Support Line after becoming concerned about the delay in getting his results. “I rang up a cancer nurse, and she was very helpful, and she had suggestions for me as to what I could do about this.” 


He has found some positive things to come out of his diagnosis. 

“It has expanded my horizon in terms of the way my family react to me. They rushed to mind me. I was staying over with my daughter the night before last because I had an early hospital appointment and I felt like royalty,” he says. “My wife Denise is looking after me and doing everything, as well as my sons and my acquaintances and friends. Everybody is providing enormous support.” 

His advice to other men is to get checked: “I would suggest that for anybody who is more than 50 years old, make sure that you have a PSA check and that you have a feisty GP who is going to chase the consultant.”