Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Post prostate cancer surgery

Lessons learned in prostate situation

by William Arnold - Dec. 22, 2008 10:26 AMSpecial for The Republic

When I went for my post-prostate surgery consultation with Mayo's Dr. Paul Andrews, I got both good news and bad news. Good news, the catheter was removed, and I was given a supply of adult pads because incontinence will be a factor - only for a few weeks I hope.

The bad news was that the entire prostate contained cancer, not just the 3 percent as determined by the biopsy. How could this happen?

Let us assume that biopsies can be taken in 100 different points in the prostate. Each biopsy collects just 12 of those hundred, and I had cancer in one biopsy sample. Unfortunately, there could and probably was cancer in the 88 samples not taken. I had no outward symptoms and a small, smooth prostate. If that one cancerous sample had not been found, I might have gone on to believe I was cancer-free.

Lesson to be learned: Work very closely with your urologist and keep tabs on your PSA and digital rectal examination.

Given all of the biopsies taken during my surgery, there is a real possibility that some cancer remains at the edge of the urethra. Only monitoring and testing will provide the answer. In the meantime, I have an additional three months to deal with the unknown.

Waiting on the unknown can be an issue. With each waiting period, I had time to think. I tried to think positive.

Is it scary? You bet it is, as you have an invader in your body, and you do not know what it is doing. Perhaps it is also a wakeup call to help you enjoy the rest of your life. As Dr. Andrews suggested, "Do the things you enjoy. Take some long walks and enjoy nature."

I cannot conclude this series on prostate cancer without saying that there are numerous treatments for prostate cancer not included in this four-part series. I will come back to the topic in a few months.

Many stories from my readers are posted on my blog. Go to: http://prostatecancersupport.blogspot.com/. Hopefully their stories can give you inspiration to deal with your situation should you face prostate cancer. Their stories and mine are my Christmas present to you.

Here is a wife's perspective: Jennifer Szakach of Scottsdale remembers: "The diagnosis was a shock to me because while we knew John had a high PSA reading, his brother had had false readings in the past, and we thought that would be the case with John.
"Dr. Darson was emphatic that John have the surgery within 2 months, so everything happened very fast. I was only involved with one meeting with the doctor and relied mostly on John's explanations for what to expect. . . .
"You can imagine my concern when 3 1/2 hours went by, and he still wasn't out of surgery. It was about 5 hours before Dr. Darson came out to tell me that John was fine, but the cancer had been more widespread that he expected, and it required a lot more work to remove it all. He said that we were very lucky to have had the surgery when we did."
For the rest of her story, go to the blog.

William Arnold can be reached at william.arnold@asu.edu.

More on this topic
Prostate cancer resources

• Conquer Prostate Cancer: How Medicine, Faith, Love and Sex Can Renew Your Life by Rabbi Ed Weinsberg and Robert Carey, M.D. provides detailed coverage of the issues related to prostate cancer and survival. The subtitle lets you know that it is more than surgery. Published in October, it comes with 13 pages of references. Available at Amazon.com.

• Promoting Wellness for Prostate Cancer Patients by Mark A. Moyal, M.D. is another good short book that can guide you from diet choices through prostate surgery. Ask your urologist for a copy of this book.


  1. Hi, Bill,

    Thanks for sharing the details of how widespread your prostate cancer was before your prostate was surgically removed, and for reminding your readers that at best, the 12 biopsy probes provide only random tissue samples.

    That's another reason to do a prostatectomy: to be able to send the removed prostate for post-surgical followup biopsy at leading labs that can thoroughly determine how extensive a patient's cancer really is once it's out. Docs have no way of really having a complete picture in advance of surgery or other treatment options.

    What's important based on your account thus far, is that your cancer was widespread within your prostate but still localized and not metastasized. I think that is the main thing to keep in mind, and I pray that any future findings in or near your prostate capsule turn out to be negative. May you have a healthy new year.

    Thanks too for mentioning my book: Conquer Prostate Cancer: How Medicine, Faith, Love and Sex Can Renew Your Life. The point of the book is that there are many side effects to surgery, be it standard or robotic, primarily relating to concerns about ED and incontinence. I contend there are various medical and mind-body approaches to conquer prostate cancer, rather than let it conquer you. Patients and survivors who read the book will get some practical ideas about getting a better handle on this disease and treatment side effects.

    More importantly, - and for no extra charge, you might want to advise your readers to buy the book on the Amazon link at my blog, www.ConquerProstateCancer.com, so they can enter the Amazon book order number after purchasing the book, and proceed to get five significant freebee reports from other survivors and myself.

    Readers can also go to the blog and look around, even if they choose not to buy the book at this time. There's plenty of good stuff to look over and absorb relating to overcoming ED and incontinence, facing your issues with humor, and even a section for women only, as women and partners whose husbands or fathers amd other loved ones get prostate cancer, suffer from prostate cancer too and would like to get a better "handle" on it.

    It costs nothing to look at www.ConquerProstateCancer.com. and your readers are welcome to ask specific questions of me, as a informed survivor and patient healthcare educator, or get guidance from one of three of my blog's consultant's: my robotic doctor, a friend who is an open surgery specialist, and our newest consultant who is an N.D., a Doctor of Naturopathy and a master herbalist.

    Read the blog, and perhaps the book, to get uplifted and better informed, and please let us know what you think of our offerings.

    As it is close to midnight on Dec. 24th, I'd like to end this note by wishing you and your readers a merry Christmas and a happy Hanukkah.

    Rabbi Ed Weinsberg, Ed.D., D.D.

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