Travelling with implants

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  OneA 15 Nov 2018
at 11:35

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  • stevescoots

    Couple of points here, one aimed at the guys here and the other as a question.

    I have recently been diagnosed with prostrate cancer and the ripe old age of 48, lucky me eh. I don’t have symptoms, but it was picked up as I asked my GP for a PSA test during my annual health screening just based really on recent media exposure thanks to the Stephen Fry, Bill Turnbull etc. The message I am passing on to all men on here is no matter your age, and no matter what your GP says then demand a PSA test next time you have any blood test or do it specifically. Early diagnosis has absolutely saved my life and it could well do yours too.

    Ok, now the preaching is over, has anyone had experience of travelling with metal implants in their body and how they deal with it at airport scanners?

    I will be having, despite specialists suggesting surgery due to my “young age” and a Gleeson 7 (4+3) score, Brachytherapy. Radioactive implants which are metal and will stay in me for life.

    I know I will have a card to carry from the NHS that I can show security.

    However outside of Europe or English-speaking countries should there be anything else I should carry, particularly in Asia?

    Should I be refusing the full body scans?

    Has anyone had problems being refused entry due to having metal parts, plates, etc inside?

    And what’s the chance of me being dragged off to a dark room because the first 4 months I am going to have a radiation signature that can be picked up externally……

    3 users thanked author for this post.


    Steve, I wish you all the very best with your treatment. I have sadly quite a few friends suffering from Prostate cancer, each and every one were diagnosed in similar circumstances to yours, just going for an annual medical. In one case, a friend was going to climb Mont Blanc for cancer research. In preparation he needed a medical and that’s when it was found. A truly silent disease….

    I feel very proud to be part of a profile study group for Prostate cancer (on a voluntary basis) at the Royal Marsden hospital, over a 10 year period. This includes numerous tests including the dreaded biopsy.

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    Steve, I wish you all the best. I too have several friends who have had the same diagnosis and with one exception (and he had other medical problems) all have made a full recovery and are now ‘clear’.


    I can’t answer your question Steve, but I do wholeheartedly agree with your sermon and am glad you caught it early and wish you a full and speedy recovery.

    I can’t emphasise enough the importance of these tests which I’ve been doing since the age of 40 (as recommended in Germany) every 2 years and since 55 every year. In the beginning it was the docs finger that did the test, most unpleasant, but now it’s much better with a simple blood sample. A lot of publicity is given to breast cancer (rightly so) but so little to Prostrate cancer which is a shame as it affects so many men. One of the problems is that men rarely like to speak or discuss such things but it’s vital we do.

    Another thing to test for is testicular cancer. Another nasty one which is more prevalent in younger people but can be just as deadly if not caught early. This is easy to check and I attach a link:

    A slightly more pleasant way is to have your partner check for you and I’ve also read that a good sex life can also help reduce the risk of both diseases.

    To conclude my sermon, a regular health check up is also vital. My doctor takes a blood sample and it’s tested for liver function, kidney function, platelets, cholesterol, sugar and a host of other things and there are also markers that can test for specific cancers. I do the whole lot and it costs about CHF 400 in Switzerland but may be free on the NHS. Every 2 years I also go for a full ultrasound of my vital organs in addition, but then I’m a bit paranoiac!!

    Good luck and thanks for bringing this up on the forum.



    Firstly I couldn’t agree more with you encouraging everyone to get a PSA test done, I was diagnosed with it 2 years ago, (Gleason 8 on the Top Trumps scale, not point scoring) I had to have surgery asap and am now 2 years in remission.

    Secondly I know someone who had the Brachytherapy treatment, ( well known musician who holds Prostate Cancer gigs at his Polo club) and still travels widely. As far as I know he has no issues. Although he does, as you say, carry a card.

    If I can give you any advice it is to a) talk about it openly to people and not bottle it up and b) realise that if you do have the dreaded C then be thankful that it is one of the easiest to diagnose and certainly one of the easiest too treat.

    I wish you well in your treatment.



    Having travelled for many years with implants since the mid 90s generally with no probs. I have an intrathecal morphine pump and a peripheral nerve stim. It pays to be fully documented with Identification cards of the implant as many security personnel just think ‘Pacemakers’ and do not know what specific technically advanced implants are as they have not been fully briefed on advanced not common implants.

    Your specific Hospital department should furnish you with these identification card from the manufacturers [for example Medtronic, thy come in the box]. These ID cards are normally in several languages too. If the language you are travelling to is not on the ID card I always translate the wording to show Airport personnel. This they find most helpful and leaves nothing to chance. As with some implants going through a body scanner or even the standard walk through scanners could and might be problematic especially if dosage or differring voltages is being dispensed/ administered by the implant.

    Also finally always take your scrip and a letter from your doctor saying that you are being prescribed the medications and also that you have an implant, again translations are helpful.

    And I wish you well and keep travelling.



    My daughter has bilateral cochlear implants (this involves two metallic implants under the skin in her skull). Whilst we carry an information card in case of question so far we have never faced any concern. This week she has travelled through Germany, Turkey and UAE without any issue. Hope this helps.


    Two comments.

    I think all men have prostate issues and it will probably ( eventually) kill most of them – but mostly only eventually when they are very, very old ( ie late 8os or well into 90s). Some prostate issues remain permanently benign and not all require intervention. There is a lot of new research evidence in this area ( listen to recent BBC “Medicine Now” podcast)

    IMO you should get your PSA checked every year. AFAIK, its a notoriously unreliable test with as many false negatives results as false positives. The key thing is it shows you a trend. So if it suddenly goes up, get more tests done asap.

    I have two total knee replacements, which are quite chunky bits of metal.

    They should set off all airport scanners, so just get prepared for a lifetime of: shoes and belts off and full body pat-downs. The good news is that many airport’s scanners are much smarter these days and can tell where you have the implant.

    The worrying thing is when you walk through a scanner and it does not detect the metal….! Guess where that was?


    Hi Stevescoots
    Like others, I wish you all the best in treatment leading to a full and complete recovery.
    As for preaching, you’re absolutely right to do so.
    Men, including myself, would stick their own heads up their arse (Sorry for the pun) rather than taking the initiative and getting a professional to do.


    As Rick Wakeman said during his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech, regarding his check up,

    What I would like to say quite seriously is how important it is to have the odd examination, which I had indeed on Monday. You ladies, you don’t know, it’s really tough. You have to get in the old foetal position, you hear the old plastic glove go off or the rubber glove. And then it’s like the gopher going on holiday inside. Whilst I was having my examination, the doctor said to me, “Mr. Wakeman, there’s no need to be embarrassed. It’s not unusual to get an erection with this kind of procedure.” I said, “I haven’t got an erection.” He said, “I know, but I have.”

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    This includes numerous tests including the dreaded biopsy.

    Yes….the dreaded Biopsy…mine didnt go so well. Biopsy Monday, Tuesday felt very unwell and started to take anitibiotics, wednesday morning rushed to hospital with a temperature of 40.5c and a diagnosis of Sepsis. Thursday and Friday in Hospital bringing it under control. Monday on a plane back to HKG, My doctor cleared e for travel but said i was nuts. unluckily i was one of the 2.5% that has that side effect, luckily they told me exactly what to look out for and to get to hospital immediatly should i see them. Sepsis can kill in 48hrs, but can also be fixed in the same time.

    To conclude my sermon, a regular health check up is also vital. My doctor takes a blood sample and it’s tested for liver function, kidney function, platelets, cholesterol, sugar and a host of other things and there are also markers that can test for specific cancers. I do the whole lot and it costs about CHF 400 in Switzerland but may be free on the NHS. Every 2 years I also go for a full ultrasound of my vital organs in addition, but then I’m a bit paranoiac!!

    I do exactly the same, a full blood screen on the NHS every 2 years and a basic MOT one every year on the NHS, all free (at the point of delivery) Organ scan i have done courtesy on the Chinese state every 3 years…when i do my resident visa application

    Thansk every one for your support and advise, in simple terms its make sure you have the card, treatment details and in the language of wherever I am travelling

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Dear Steve, first of all let me add my heartiest best wishes to those of the other respondents.

    I have had a couple of PSA tests, thankfully negative, and also a couple of colonoscopies, which are not a barrel of laughs. The former were clear, the latter required removing some pre-cancerous cells. There is a lot of focus on cancers affecting women, and cervical smears and mammograms are commonplace on the distaff side – yet most men do not take the corresponding precautions. I applaud you coming here to explain your own history and encouraging others to do what you did. Because of my history I will be having colonoscopies regularly. I also have a history of skin lesions (fortunately only benign carcinoma) so I bare myself to a specialist every year for a full top-to-toe check.

    Because of an unrelated health condition, I receive – for a whopping HK$80 (about US$10), which isn’t quite as cheap as the NHS but to my mind represents extraordinarily good value, particularly since I pay just HK$30 in prescription fees for the drugs I require which would cost about HK$40,000 privately – a fairly comprehensive blood screening every four months, but it doesn’t include the PSA test. That I pay for privately, and think is superb value for money (even thought it’s quite expensive).

    I would also like to make a little plug here for a company with which I have no association other than as a satisfied customer. A couple of years ago some friends gave me for my birthday (probably as a joke, but they are the sort of friends where you can never really tell!) some “Oddballs” underwear. All profits go to raise awareness of testicular cancer (yes, I know that isn’t your issue, but LP raised it before me!). The cause is so good, and to be really truthful I find them so comfortable, that I rarely wear anything else (at least in the underwear department!).

    Again, all best wishes. I am so glad you were able to get an early diagnosis, and thank you for encouraging others to have the same early opportunity for treatment that you did.


    Hi Ian,

    thanks for your comments. Unfortunately, I have also had the not so nice pleasure of a couple of colonoscopies, both the not too pleasant shallow one done while conscious and the deeper one whilst knocked out on happy juice as I call it. A strong family history of bowel cancer had me start doing mine 5 years ago. Luckily, I had the all clear, no polyps and told to come back in 10 years. However, I plan to have it done again as soon as I finish my treatment for this. Getting the word out there really helps, several of my friends have been to get tested since me and thankfully have all come back clear

    Chris in Makati

    After being prompted by this thread I asked my doctor to include a PSA test when I was there a couple of days ago. I’m very glad I did because the test came back with a level of 6.3ng/mL (with the normal range being 0-4.5). So looks like I’m heading for a biopsy as a result of that.


    If your implants will be fully underneath your skin, and if you have the option of a full-body scanner vs. a metal detector, and IFF the metal detectors in fact beep on your implants, you’re better off with the full-body detectors. (Big IFF. Small amounts of metal in implants probably won’t set off airport metal detectors, but your mileage may vary, so to speak).

    Full-body detectors use “backscatter” (either X-rays which bounce off of your skin, not penetrating it like medical X-rays do to look inside you; or “millimeter” wave which use lower energy and therefore safer radiation, and also bounce off). Therefore, any implant which doesn’t sit on/ change the outline of your skin would not appear on a full-body scan.

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