ALPHARETTA, Ga. - In 2010 – when I was 56 - my PSA count jumped a bit too much for my primary care doctor. I was tested (needle biopsy) and the sample was sent to the lab. It came back positive - with a small number of prostate cancer cells in a couple quadrants. At that point I decided to treat the cancer the radiation/seed route in lieu of surgery or “watch and wait.’ I went through the process – the day surgery to implant the seeds and then six weeks of radiation. Since then my PSA has dropped significantly like it is supposed to and I am getting on with my life with little to no significant residual side effects. That is my very short summary and what follows is a short list of points that I feel could answer questions for those who are or will be faced with the same illness.
• The needle biopsy doesn’t hurt. It’s not a big deal.
• The radiation was no big deal. I didn’t lose my hair and really felt few side effects. It doesn’t hurt and the sessions last about 15-20 minutes each.
• Most folks I have spoken with who did radiation have had to take medication for about the first year or so to help urinate. The radiation essentially destroys the prostrate / urethra – including the cancer cells and then the healthy tissue grows back – but it takes time.
• The first week after the surgery you typically have to use a catheter. That was probably the most aggravating aspect. But within a week that is typically gone.
• I didn’t spend a lot of time researching alternatives but there are more now – including proton therapy which sounds like the least invasive of all treatments. I also know at least two folks who were treated in Jacksonville, Florida.
• Once you have had prostate cancer you will be amazed at how many of your friends and people you know have had it also. The numbers are so surprising.
• In hindsight, I almost feel guilty writing about prostate cancer because so many of the other cancers and treatments are so much worse.