Many men are reluctant to talk about or be checked for prostate cancer,but John Wyatt said early discovery saved his life.
He wants to encourage other men to let go of their fear andembarrassment and get tested.
"If you don't get yourself checked, the cancer will jump toyour bones, colon and kidneys, and you're dead," Wyatt warned.
The prostate is one of the male sex glands and adds nutrientsand fluid to sperm. It is walnut sized, divided into left and rightlobes and lies under the bladder. About 225,000 cases of prostatecancer will be diagnosed nationally this year, said Dr. David Hurst,radiation oncologist and medical director at Gulf Coast CancerTreatment Center.
About one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, after lung cancer.About 27,000 men will die of the disease this year, according to theAmerican Cancer Society
If prostate cancer is caught in the early stages -- before itmetastasizes -- the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent. Ifit has spread, the survival rate drops to 32 percent, according to theCancer Society.
In April of last year, Wyatt, now 66, began to urinatefrequently. He had not experienced the problem before, so he went tohis urologist. The doctor examined Wyatt and found his prostate wasvery hard. It is supposed to be soft.
"I was scheduled for a biopsy," said Wyatt, adding that therewas no pain. "They removed 12 little snippets (from the prostate), andtwo were cancerous." The urologist referred Wyatt to Hurst, who presented histreatment options -- a radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate)or radioactive seed implants. Wyatt chose the implants. Patients first get a CT scan and the prostate is mapped todetermine how many seeds are needed and where to implant them. Hurstsaid seed implants provide the highest possible chance of maintainingpotency. The seeds are small but powerful. "The material -- iodine 125 or palladium -- is coated withmetal the size of a grain of rice," said Hurst. "The radioactive seedsemit photons (X-rays) that kill the cancer. In about six months to ayear, the photons are spent." Hurst said he and the urologist work as a team during theprocedure. In Wyatt's case, 22 seeds were implanted with needles, whichprovided pinpoint radiation on the tumors. The procedure was performedin about 35 minutes on an in-patient basis. "I had no pain. I went back to work afterward, and the nextday I went to the gym and lifted weights," said Wyatt. "I had 30radiation treatments once a week. I didn't lose any hair, and there wasno damage to my internal organs."
Patients are asked to return in two months and get a repeat CTscan for comparison. After that, they are seen every three months for ablood test to monitor the level of their prostate-specific antigen, orPSA. PSA is a blood substance that often increases in patients withprostate cancer and other prostate diseases. Levels of 3 to 4 mark theearly stage of prostate cancer and levels up to several thousand can befound in advanced cancer, Hurst said. "At my three-month blood work-up, my PSA was 0.01," saidWyatt. "Knock on wood. I'm as clean as I can be." After a couple of years, patients return every four to sixmonths, then once a year for a checkup. Warning signsHurst said men with an enlarged prostate will have a decreasedurine stream, hesitancy when urinating, or frequency of urination.There is no pain, he added. Prostate cancer usually occurs in men over the age of 50. If aman's father, brother or son develops it, they are advised to startannual screenings at age 40. Black men are more prone to the diseaseand should begin screenings annually at age 45. Early treatmentWyatt is happy with the seed implants, which he said can't beseen or felt and never caused him pain. He's even happier he got helpbefore the cancer spread. Wyatt also said he thoroughly researched prostate canceronline and advises other men to do the same. Knowledge is power, hesaid. For information, go to www.cancer.org. Source: The News Herald,Panama City, Fla. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune InformationServices. Powered by YellowBrix.