For about 4 decades I have been taking regular annual PSA tests to screen for Prostate Cancer. My father passed with advanced Prostate Cancer in 1976 at the age of 81 and I then began detection using the PSA test. For our adult life Edna and I had been members of HIP but when we retired from teaching and did more traveling we switched to GHI and Medicare.
As the years went by, my PSA level rose so my Urologist, David S. Schnapp. MD, PC, performed biopsies now and then and happily they were always negative.
Over the decades my prostate became larger so that that treatment was performed to reduce the size by Dr. Schnapp. I kept busy working in several high schools producing positive stories and photos of the good things going on there. Then last November after my annual test, my PSA rose again so an MRI was performed and then another biopsy. By the end of November 2014 the result came back that there was a carcinoma growing. I was 82 years old; older than my father had been when he passed.
In early December 2014 I was referred to Alan J. Katz, MD at the FROS Radiation Oncology CyberKnife Center in downtown Flushing. He explained the treatment wh ich involved computer guided robotic technology and he gave me a research paper he had written . There was more testing and the first treatment started on Dec. 31, 2014 with the final treatment on Jan. 8, 2015.
The treatment consisted of five massive radiation doses. Using the MRI they had of me Dr. Katz inserted four gold fiducials, about the size of rice grains, into the cancer in my prostrate.
I watched them doing the procedure on the screen they were using. Prior to this act ivity and the five radiation treatments an enema cleaned out my lower bowel.
The procedure is called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) . Technicians guided me to a table and placed my feet on a mold which kept them steady. I held on to a ring over my chest to keep my arms steady.
Above my feet was an X-ray machine which can best be described as an arm like the ones used to weld the frames of automobiles.
A massive door closed to keep the X-rays in the room. Soothing music filled the room. I was in communication with the technicians although there was no need to talk to them.
For about 45 minutes the arm moved slowly around my lower abdomen, up one side and down the other side of my body and then crossed over my body.
As it moved the re was a whirling sound, very science fiction like. Every 30 or 40 or 50 seconds or so the machine stopped. Then it moved again
It was near my shoulder then down near my feet. Every time the arm stopped, a massive dose of radiation was delivered into my prostate with those 4 gold nodules being the guide for the placement of the radiation. There was no discomfort.
You really can’t shoot five massive doses of X-ray without some toxicity. I felt burning when I passed urine for about two weeks and had some blood in my urine but I talked to the doctor and was told to drink more water. Lots of fruit made bowel movements easier.
The research paper told of a 7-year follow up of 477 patients of low and intermediate risk with roughly 89 to 95 percent of the patients doing well. The study ended in 2010. After three months a new PSA base line will be established for me. Hopefully my PSA with be zero or near zero.
GOODNEWS OF THE WEEK: We had a large snowstorm which could have been worse.
The city and state closed the highways, plowed the snow and salted with out cars and trucks interfering with the plowing. This looks like the way to go the future if there is a big storm.