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When we started this blog in Sept. 2015, it was our intention to share Paul’s experiences with alternative prostate cancer treatment (specifically transurethral hyperthermia.)  When initially researching the procedure, we were frustrated with the limited information we could find on the treatment results. If this treatment was helping (or possibly curing prostate cancer), where were the success stories?  We were determined to share our experience openly so that they next person considering this treatment would have the full benefit of what we learned.

Three years later, having determined that the alternative treatment was not curative, Paul will be undergoing traditional treatment in the U.S.

This blog continues to get traffic and we often hear from men who are struggling with treatment decisions. Many of the questions we receive were answered in earlier posts, but we certainly don’t expect anyone to read ALL of our previous posts (despite how riveting they are – lol.)

So, here’s a shortcut to the highlights of the past three years:

  1. About us. Here’s the background on the two of us and why we decided to undertake this project.
  2. Initial Diagnosis. How Paul’s cancer was discovered, initial PSA and biopsy results. Our research on how transurethral hyperthermia works and the various clinics in Germany where it is offered.
  3. Treatment in Germany. There is a daily recap of the five days we spent at the Marinus Clinic in Germany starting HERE and ending HERE. There is also a page of photos of the transurethral hyperthermia equipment as well as tips for anyone considering visiting the Marinus Clinic.
  4. Updates at 30 days, six months, and one year after treatment.
  5. Results of Sept. 2016 MRI.
  6. Our move to Denver, CO and decision to get a mapping biopsy to determine if the cancer had gotten worse. This post also includes our (differing) conclusions about the ultimate results of the treatment in Germany.
  7. The mapping biopsy results showing that Paul’s Gleason score was higher than originally reported, as well the fact that the cancer has spread to his seminal vesicle. His cancer was re-classified as stage 3 and we began looking at both surgical and radiation treatment options.
  8. The results of a February 2018 CT and bone scan that confirmed the cancer had not spread to other organs.
  9. Treatment Plan. Paul’s decision to proceed with radiation combined with hormone deprivation (beginning July 2018).
  10. Treatment is underway. ADT hormone blocker therapy and pre-radiation testing.
  11. Prepped and ready. After four months of ADT therapy, Paul’s radiation treatments will start in October.

September 2018 — Prepped and Ready

imagesSeptember is prostate cancer awareness month. If you’re over 50, please get tested.

Since our last update in July, Paul has undergone a battery of tests in preparation for his radiation treatment (which is now scheduled to begin in mid October.)

Paul started Androgen Deprivation Therapy in July and has begun a series of shots that block his production of testosterone for three months at a time. If you’ve ever heard the TV or radio ads touting the symptoms of “low T” that’s what he’s been experiencing. He’s definitely having some side effects but so far they’ve been tolerable. It’s frustrating to not “feel like yourself” (especially when you feel young and healthy in every other way) but we have to keep reminding ourselves that it is temporary.

Additionally he’s been poked and prodded, had MRI’s and CAT scans, blood work, casts made for radiation, fiducial markers and an OAR spacer inserted and even gotten a couple of tiny tattoos that will be used to aim the radiation. And, as of today, we have his radiation dates scheduled.

He’ll begin external beam radiation treatments (EBRT) on Friday, October 19th and he’ll have one weekly treatment on each of the subsequent Fridays for five consecutive weeks. EBRT focuses X-rays on the prostate from a machine outside the body. The doctor will direct the radiation right to the gland and pelvic region and adjust the dose to target the cancer – ideally without damaging the rectum, bladder or surrounding areas. The treatment takes about 10 minutes, and it doesn’t hurt. It’s usually done daily over the course of four to five weeks but Paul has opted for a higher dose treatment given weekly. This is similar to “CyberKnife” – a branded procedure that our insurance won’t cover because of the stage and degree of Paul’s cancer. He can expect some fatigue, but he should be able to keep working.

If all goes well, his last treatment will be on Friday, November 16th, the week before Thanksgiving. And we will surely be giving thanks to have his treatment in the rear view mirror.

Just to set expectations, we will not know immediately if/how the treatment worked. After radiation treatment for prostate cancer, the primary indicator is a PSA score. However, since Paul is currently undergoing Androgen Deprivation Therapy and is on a testosterone blocker we won’t be able to get an accurate PSA until he stops ADT therapy and the drugs get completely out of his system. This could literally be years as the doctors want him to stay on it the ADT regimen for at least a year following radiation and possibly longer.

The research shows that three years of androgen-deprivation therapy can improve the results of radiation treatment. But long-term hormonal treatment is expensive, and it often produces unpleasant side effects. To find out if short-term androgen treatment is beneficial, Harvard researchers studied 206 volunteers with clinically localized but high-grade prostate cancer. Half the men received standard external beam radiotherapy; the others received the same doses of radiation plus six months of androgen deprivation with an LHRH agonist and an antiandrogen. After an average follow-up of more than four and a half years, the men who received combination therapy enjoyed a higher overall survival rate (88% vs. 78%), a lower risk of dying from prostate cancer, and a lower risk of requiring additional cancer treatment. However, combination therapy produced more breast enlargement and impotence.

So, the longer he can stay on the ADT therapy the better, but even six – 12 months should yield some long-term benefits.

In happier news, we are getting married in late January 2019 and going on an amazing honeymoon in S. Africa. So there is LOTS to look forward to.