The Edmond Sun

November 7, 2013

Annual screening key to stopping prostate cancer

Van Mitchell
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — Jim Gray had been getting his annual PSA screening for more than 20 years without any problems until he received a red flag warning in 2012.

That warning was an elevated PSA count that eventually led to his diagnosis of prostate cancer.

“I had always had good numbers but in May of 2012 I had elevated numbers,” he said. “I was referred to an oncologist where I was later diagnosed in late August.”

Gray said his doctor said he didn’t have to do anything about it right away but suggested having treatment sooner than later.

Making a decision to seek treatment wasn’t something Gray, then 56, had to dwell on.

“That is my type of personality,” he said. “I never really did freak out about this. If there is a problem let’s deal with it and move on and let the chips fall where they may.”

After consulting with doctors and doing online research, Gray landed at the ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City for treatment. He had his last radiation treatment in December 2012. He will receive another PSA checkup this December.

“At this point they are calling me cancer free,” he said.

According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health, cancer that forms in tissues of the prostate (a gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum). It says prostate cancer usually occurs in older men.

The NCI website said estimated new cases of prostate cancer in 2013 in the United States will be 238,590 and estimated deaths from prostate cancer this year will be 29,720.

Prostate cancer was something that Gray was familiar with. Both his father and brother had prostate cancer.

Gray said having family member’s experiences to learn from was beneficial in making his decision to use ProCure for treatment.

“My dad and my brother both had it,” Gray said. “My brother did the surgery and my dad did the radiation seed implants. Surgery didn’t seem to be an option for me. There are some potential side effects from the seed implants. I did my research on proton therapy. I could come and go to work. That impacted my decision.”

Proton therapy is an effective form of radiation therapy for many types of tumors. It destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing, just like standard X-ray (photon) radiation.

The difference between proton therapy and standard X-ray radiation is that protons deposit much of their radiation directly in the tumor and then stop. This allows patients to receive higher doses, which can be more effective, while reducing damage to healthy tissues that surround the tumor.

Gray said for the most part he was able to maintain his active lifestyle during proton treatments.

“I continued doing what I am doing,” he said. “I continue to exercise. I just got back from fishing in Alaska. This didn’t slow me down.”

Gray said it may sound strange but he feels blessed he received prostate cancer.

“I was really blessed to get this type of cancer,” Gray said. “I could have done nothing and lived another 15 or 20 years. I came in here and saw little kids with tubes in their noses. I walked out of there (ProCure) thinking I was very lucky to have this cancer because we could deal with this. There is always someone else way worse than we are.”