The following is a personal story and HIFU patient experience from Bill Slover. It was originally posted here.
As a Certified Wealth Strategist (CWS®) I continuously deal with numbers. In this month’s blog, I’m going to talk about numbers that can save a life: specifically, what PSA means. If you’re a man — or you know one — please take time to read this.
What is PSA (prostate specific antigen)?
Once each year I have a medical physical. Among the things I have checked by my doctor is my PSA level, which stands for prostate specific antigen. PSA is detected by a simple blood test and is a possible indicator of prostate cancer. An elevated PSA level can be caused by things other than prostate cancer, but if a physician sees a PSA level rise significantly over a period of time, he will want to monitor the situation. Early last year this is what happened to me. My routine blood work indicated I had an elevated PSA level. If you do a little reading on this subject, you’ll find that the primary concern is how much that number may have increased from the previous test. In my case, it was significant enough to warrant additional investigation.
The next step was to have additional blood work performed. This is a more detailed report that gives indication of cancer and possibly, how aggressive the cancer may be. After that, it was on to a specialist. In my case I chose Dr. Stan Sujka in Orlando, Florida based on a personal recommendation*.
Dr. Sujka performed further examination and scheduled additional tests. An MRI designed specifically to examine the prostate was done. The MRI found no tumors but indicated a possible infection. While this was good news to me, Dr. Sujka explained the test was not 100% accurate. After a round of antibiotics and no reduction in the PSA, I had biopsies done. This resulted in the news I had not hoped for. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Having a trusted physician in a situation like this is priceless. Learning the next steps and having someone take time to address your concerns is important.
Further investigation, research, and HIFU
I had a Gleason score of 3+3. This was, in part, some good news. Next, genomic testing on the biopsied samples was done. This gives further indication of how aggressive the cancer might be. This testing was useful when determining what treatment action to take. The options available are numerous. There’s Active Surveillance, Radiation, Surgery, Hormone Therapy, HIFU, and more. There are a variety of factors that determine the option that you and your doctor will choose. I chose to have High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) performed. While this procedure has only been used in the U.S. for a few years in treating prostate cancer, it has been used in other parts of the world much longer.
In addition to Dr. Sujka, Dr. Jack Cassell of Mount Dora — who also includes HIFU as part of his practice — was present during my procedure. Both physicians have significant experience with the procedure, and this was an important factor in my decision.
I had the HIFU performed on a Tuesday and returned home the same day. There was some initial discomfort. However, I was comfortable enough to walk about a mile and a half the following day, and that evening I drove to the grocery store. By Friday, I went into the office thinking I would stay a few hours — but felt well enough to stay most of the day. While the recovery has had its ups and downs, my activity has been quite normal.
What I have learned about prostate cancer…
Have a routine physical that includes a PSA blood test AND a digital exam. This is because some cancers can cause tumors to form without causing a rise in PSA levels.
You may have no symptoms.
Follow up — this is treatable and curable.
Knowledge is power.
I want to thank my wife for her support, my doctors for providing great care, my good friend Mike for the doctor referral, and so many friends and family for words of encouragement and prayer during this time.
If you have questions for me, I encourage you to get in touch. I am not able to offer medical advice, but I will frankly answer questions about my experience.