AUSTIN (KXAN) — Prostate cancer. Chilling words to most men. A longtime alternative to surgery or radiation is now proving much more effective, thanks to precise new technology.
It’s welcome news since more than a quarter million American men will be diagnosed this year. Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer there is, and despite its deceptively slow spread, it can be deadly if it spreads aggressively or is not caught early enough.
Ron Wolters was enjoying the full, fun life of retirement when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago. The 67-year-old rejected surgery and doctors told him he was a perfect candidate for radiation, a long and debilitating form of treatment.
“I went through radiation, 45 treatments, five days a week, for nine weeks,” he recalled. “But after it was over my PSA numbers kept going up and we knew some of the cancer remained. My doctors were devastated, I could see it in their eyes.”
You only get one shot at radiation treatment. If it doesn’t work the first time there won’t be a second effort.
Then Wolters heard about cryotherapy, freezing the prostate’s cancerous cells. Its an old approach seeing new success thanks to advanced pinpoint technology.
“It was very imprecise, not something I would wish on my own family,” said Dr. Eric Giesler explaining the old procedure. “But now with the changes in technology the precision is markedly improved. It’s something I believe is a new tool to fight prostate cancer.”
Thanks to precision targeting, many men can now avoid nerve damage and maintain full functions.
Ron Wolters had the outpatient treatment in June and is now cancer free. “They froze it, left the catheter in for a week, which was real uncomfortable. But the day after they took it out I was back on the golf course.”
Texas Oncology projects there will be 233,000 new cases diagnosed this year in the United States, and 30,000 deaths from prostate cancer. In Texas, there will be 18,000 new cases with 2,100 deaths. Sixty percent of all cases are diagnosed in men 65 and older. The five year survival rate when diagnosed is 99 percent, but don’t be fooled by the cancer’s normally deceptively slow spread. That is not always the case and doctors recommend getting a yearly exam after the age of 50.
“It’s the ultimate treatment,” Wolters smiles, talking about cryotherapy. “Your life is back. You become cancer free.
“Now I can die of something else,” he jokes. Wolters knows there is still too much golf to be played. Too much life to be lived.