CHI Health Saint Elizabeth


Scott, Prostate Cancer
scottWhat he thought was an ordinary drive home from watching a spring training baseball game, turned out to be a defining moment in Scott’s life. "I was devastated," said Scott, who had just turned 61. "I thought I was too healthy and too young. I thought I was invincible and that there was no way my biopsy would show cancer."

Scott, his wife Cathy, and a couple of friends enjoyed an afternoon watching a spring training game. While returning home, Scott’s cell phone rang. It was a call from his urologist.

His Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) level had risen by more than a point and a half, to 3.68, in just a year. That fateful day, his urologist called with Scott’s biopsy results. He had prostate cancer. Scott, an orthopedic surgeon, had been retired for about six years and was enjoying fly fishing, golfing, and traveling with his wife of 38 years. He had four young grandchildren who he expected to spend time with as they grew up. “As a doctor, I imagined the worst possible outcome,” he said. “I was afraid it was one of the few types of prostate cancer that might spread quickly.”

After taking a few days to deal emotionally with his diagnosis, Scott began extensive research on prostate cancer and the various treatments. He spoke with a number of prostate cancer patients about their treatments and the problems they encountered. He conferred with several internists and his youngest son, a cardiology resident, spoke with his colleagues about their thoughts on the options available to his father.

Around the same time, one of Scott’s friends attended a prostate cancer seminar and brought him back information about the CyberKnife.

“When I read the brochure, I was excited to talk more to my urologist about whether I was a candidate for the CyberKnife,” Scott recalled. At his next appointment they discussed the entire list of potential treatments, including watchful waiting – or as Scott calls it, “benign neglect” – cryotherapy, hormone therapy, surgery, and several methods of radiation therapy, including CyberKnife.

“I was looking for a treatment that offered me the best chance for a complete cure,” Scott said. “But it was extremely important to me to avoid the complications – impotence, incontinence, and bowel problems – that commonly result from prostate cancer treatment.”

Scott and his doctor decided that the CyberKnife treatment was best option to meet all of those criteria. “What convinced me to do it was the preciseness, how the CyberKnife stops and recalibrates in order to accurately treat the tumor,” he said. “Once I made the decision to go with the CyberKnife, I felt a calm and relief that I wouldn’t have to go through all the complications.”

Scott had a CT scan and MRI so a radiation oncologist could locate the 40-gram tumor and develop a treatment plan. Treatment with CyberKnife lasted for five consecutive days.

“Each session lasted about an hour, and throughout the treatment I was able to relax and listen to my own music in a pleasant room,” Scott said. “And after the treatment with CyberKnife was finished, I rested for no more than a day and then resumed my normal activities.”

Scott said that though he was told to expect fatigue and some short-term urinary symptoms, he experienced none of these. The treatment didn’t slow Scott down. Just two days after the treatment ended, he was back out on the golf course, playing 18 holes with his friends. And a few months later he was fly fishing for salmon.

The results of CyberKnife treatment exceeded Scott’s expectations. At his last appointment with his urologist, Scott’s PSA level was down to 0.7. “Not only did it cure my disease, there were no complications and minimal side effects,” he said. “I feel very fortunate that I could avoid all the complications that are devastating to men.”

“If the patient is the right candidate,” Scott added, “the decision to go with the CyberKnife is a no-brainer.”

Read Howard's story about his Prostate Cancer