I had been receiving PSA tests during all of my (starting in 2001) annual checkups and mine ranged from .74 to 1.53. During my annual checkup and DRE this year, my Internal Medicine doctor said he felt something odd and that he wanted a "more experienced finger" to check it out. I made an appointment with the urologist he recommended and he said he agreed that he felt something odd and referred me to have an MRI of the pelvis with and without contrast. The urologist didn't like something he saw on the MRI and ordered a biopsy. He took 18 samples. I received the news that I had prostate cancer from the urologist on Memorial Day. 3 of the 18 samples were positive with a Gleason Grade of 7 (3+4). He said that it was "low volume, intermediate risk". I also chose to have a "prolaris" test, which measures the aggressiveness of the disease. The test came back as a 2.5, indicating a less aggressive cancer.
I had a friend who had been through the wringer with Prostate Cancer, having had Hifu in Mexico, then having it recur, having prostatectomy surgery in Maryland, chemo and traditional radiation. Due to his experience, I did not want Hifu. He also told me of the undesirable side effects from traditional radiation. I also spoke with 2 family members who had surgery, both successful (one with minimum side effects) and 6 and 8 years out, respectively. My wife had spoken with a woman in our neighborhood whose husband had received proton therapy at MD Anderson, so we arranged a meeting with him. He had continued to do well in the 3 years since his treatment and was glad he had chosen that treatment. I began to read more about options and narrowed my choices down to proton therapy and surgery. I met with a highly regarded surgeon, who specializes in nerve sparing and of course, I was a "poster child" for that treatment. I also scheduled a meeting with a radiation oncologist at MD Anderson to discuss proton therapy. I was not sure that proton therapy would be covered by my insurance, so I also began to do all the testing that is required prior to surgery, such as colonoscopy, cardiologist visit and EKG and scheduled a surgery date. I read a lot of stories on this site, protonbob and the MD Anderson site and decided to pursue
Proton Therapy Site. MD Anderson assigns patients to a "patient advocate" and she was very helpful with the insurance procedures. Proton treatment was denied twice, then MDA appealed to the state insurance commission and it was at last approved.
For my treatment, I received a 4 month Lupron shot on August 30, along with a 30 day treatment of the oral drug Casodex. I underwent "simulation", where markers are placed in your prostate and began my prostate treatments on October 11. I just finished my 39 treatments yesterday and have tolerated it very well! A few cranberry pills and one Flomax tablet are all I have needed. I did have some fatigue and minor, irritating hot flashes. I am really pleased with treatments I received at MD Anderson and met other men with varying levels of prostate cancer. The locker room conversations were always fun and enlightening and the techs were extremely knowledgeable and compassionate.
I am scheduled to have my first follow up PSA in March and will report back here.