of flyswatters and cannonballs
Geisinger physicians offer one local man advanced treatment for his prostate cancer — a treatment that targets just the cancer cells and leads to quicker recovery and fewer side effects.
During his annual physicals over a period of a few years, William “Bill” Blum, Ph.D., 68, of Central Pennsylvania, saw his PSA score rise steadily. Higher PSA scores sometimes indicate prostate cancer, making PSA tests an important screening tool. But Bill recalls not worrying much about it, even when his family physician recommended a biopsy. At just above 4.0, the score was still somewhat low. So his likelihood of having cancer was only about 25 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. Plus, he had no family history of the disease.
“A week after the biopsy, though, I found out that I did have prostate cancer,” he says. “My urologist was hopeful we’d caught it early since the results of the digital rectal exam were good.”
Bill B's Story - Prostate Cancer
Geisinger physicians offer one local man advanced treatment for his prostate cancer - a treatment that targets just the cancer cells and leads to quicker recovery and fewer side effects.
Bill read books and websites and consulted with other physicians. Their recommendations for treatment included various radiation therapies and a radical prostatectomy, or removal of the entire prostate.
“The more I learned about both of those options, the more they sounded like using a cannon ball to kill a house fly,” Bill says. “We’d caught this cancer early. I didn’t think we needed an extreme treatment when cancer was only in a section of the prostate and had not spread.”
Bill continued searching for treatments and eventually learned about “cryoablation,” one of the latest therapies for prostate cancer. Instead of using radiation to destroy cancer cells, cryoablation uses freezing temperatures to destroy the cells and specific surrounding tissues. Cryoablation is a newer procedure, however, and Bill found it difficult to find accurate information about it or physicians who perform it.
Successful and brief
During cryoablation in April 2008, Bill’s cancer was destroyed by freezing the portion of the prostate with cancer and some of the surrounding tissue. Instead of weeks or months of recovery, as required with other therapies, he spent just one day in the hospital and a few days resting at home before returning to normal activities. He has had no side effects, including no sexual dysfunction nor incontinence, which sometimes occur with other prostate therapies.
“My doctor’s prognosis for my recovery was exactly correct,” Bill says, delighted. “I returned to work [as a systems engineer for the defense industry] the week following my cryoablation procedure.”
He’s also able to resume travels with his wife, Charleen, to visit children and grandchildren as far away as Yakima, Washington. And he’s back on the golf course, playing 18 holes as often as twice a week.
Spread the news
Like another colleague, Bill was so pleased with the cryoablation procedure at Geisinger that he wanted to share his experience with others.
“Cryoablation for prostate cancer is such a new procedure that it’s difficult to find accurate information about it,” he says. “I want people to know that it might be a good option for them and that it can help them avoid many of the bad side effects of other procedures.”
Bill also wants people to know that this advanced therapy is available at Geisinger.
“A lot of people don’t pay attention to healthcare until they need it,” he says. “Before this experience, I thought you’d have to go to major cities to get the best cancer care. I really didn’t know that Geisinger’s specialists were so good. And they’re here in rural Pennsylvania.”