Former Proton Center patient encourages men to know the risk factors for prostate cancer
Mike Bible, 71 of Oklahoma City, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013 during a physical for the Veterans Administration (VA). A routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test showed significantly elevated results for Bible compared to six months before. Given the potential risks and aggressive nature of his prostate cancer, Bible’s urologist recommended three treatment options: robotic surgery, brachytherapy seeds or proton therapy.
“After I reviewed my options and spoke with friends who received prostate cancer treatment, I decided on proton therapy because it was the least invasive and had minimal side effects,” said Bible. “I received proton therapy treatment at the Oklahoma Proton Center in Oklahoma City for two months and it didn’t interfere in my day-to-day life. I could still play with my grandkids, go on walks with my wife and do everything I did before prostate cancer.”
Proton therapy is a type of radiation that can more precisely target tumor cells, sparing healthy organs around the tumor from unnecessary radiation exposure and reducing the risk of short and long-term side effects. For prostate cancer, less radiation to surrounding tissues means low risk of incontinence, impotence and gastrointestinal damage.
Since completing treatment three years ago, Bible has spoken about prostate cancer and proton therapy’s benefits to his church, his PTSD support group for veterans, at the Oklahoma Capitol and with many other individuals from across the state.
“Until you are in the situation where you have prostate cancer, it is hard to anticipate the kind of treatment or care you will need,” said Bible. “My hope is to share my experience with others so they know the risks of prostate cancer, what to watch for and understand all of their treatment options.”
According to the American Cancer Society, regular screenings are one of the most effective ways to prevent prostate cancer. Monitoring the amount of PSA through regularly scheduled blood tests is the most common screening. The PSA level usually increases significantly to signify prostate cancer, but it is important to have an open dialogue with a physician to monitor the possibility of prostate cancer development.
“About one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in his lifetime, and early detection is essential,” said Dr. Gary Larson, radiation oncologist. “Prostate cancer is more easily treated when caught early, and it is extremely important to be educated about early screening and treatment options so men can make the best decision for their case.”
In recognition of National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month this September, the Oklahoma Proton Center offers the following information on prostate cancer risk factors and encourages Oklahomans to stay informed:
The risk of prostate cancer increases dramatically for men over 50.
According to the American Cancer Society, about six in ten cases of prostate cancer occur in men over the age of 65.
A family history of prostate cancer can lead to a higher risk of diagnosis. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles the risk of prostate cancer diagnosis, especially if the relatives were young at the time the cancer was found.
Obesity is associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer. Studies have found that obese men are more likely to be diagnosed with a more aggressive prostate cancer than men at a healthy weight.
Men of African American descent have higher risk of prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer deaths occur twice as often in African-American men than Caucasian men. For unknown reasons, Asian-American and Hispanic men are less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than Caucasian males.
Talk with your doctor. Certain risk factors can increase the likelihood that you will develop prostate cancer, but having one or several risk factors does not mean that you will be diagnosed. It is important to have an ongoing conversation with your physician to monitor your health and map out a care plan that’s right for you.