It takes a village to handle and survive metastatic prostate cancer, a prostate cancer that has spread to bones or lungs or lymph nodes and elsewhere. And one of the crucial aspects of that village, for me, has been the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System, a form of radiation that has been specific and accurate for many of my metastatic lesions, a treatment that has minimized collateral damage.
I was first diagnosed in 1984 at the ripe age of 35, turning 36. Surgery, a radical prostatectomy, was the only real option at that time. Even though my surgeons were convinced they got it all – I loved their optimism – the margins of the cancer were not clear; there appeared to be some rogue cells that had gone beyond the capsule of the prostate.
Indeed the newly developed PSA (prostate specific antigen) in 1989 showed that the tumor had reappeared, at least microscopically. Then the fun began. An intermittent androgen blockade helped me avoid permanent surgical castration, but it meant intermittent castration to stop the cancer cells from being constantly fueled by testosterone, the male hormone.
In 2004 I found my first palpable metastatic prostate cancer. The CyberKnife treatment then saved my life: A lesion in the lung had shown up in a CT Scan – an unusual spot for prostate cancer to spread to. An astute thoracic surgeon pointed out that I did not have to have my ribs and lungs splayed open in order to respond to the cancer. Instead let’s go, she, the surgeon, said to me, to the CyberKnife, available at Georgetown University near my home in Washington, D.C.
And, voila! It worked beautifully.
Subsequently, since 2010, I have had the CyberKnife treatment to several oligometastases, single lesions found here and there when off the androgen withdrawal treatment. Lesions in the thoracic spine, one in the lumbar spine, two separate ones in the skull (the parietal-occipital area) – and one especially sensitive lesion along the edge of the parietal-occipital brain, some rogue cells near where the skull lesions had been active.
Since I make my living using my brain as a psychiatrist, it was crucial that the treatment not create any collateral damage. And with five treatments in 40 minute five day periods, again voila! The CyberKnife treatment has allowed me to live a full life, professionally, recreationally, and family-wise. What a gift!
Yes, now it’s been 31 years of living with prostate cancer, 25 years of living with chemical evidence of metastatic disease, and 11 years of dealing with palpable disease, with CyberKnife continuing to lead the way.
As of the creation of this patient profile, Paul found his CyberKnife treatment to be successful.