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Patients speak about prostate cancer and laparoscopic radical prostatectomy

Phil Ingersoll, Washington, DC

My prostate cancer story begins two years ago with a PSA prostate specific antigen reading of slightly over 4. A prostate biopsy by a local urologist was negative. This last fall, while my wife was in the middle of treatment for breast cancer, my PSA went to slightly over 6, and a biopsy by the head of the department of Urology at Washington Hospital Center proved to be positive. He said that treatment options include many types, from various prostate cancer radiation treatment procedures to a traditional form of prostate cancer surgery known as radical retropubic prostatectomy. He suggested that I schedule surgery after the Christmas holidays.

The delay gave me time to research all of the options he suggested, and I decided that wanted to be back on my feet as quickly as possible, so as not to complicate my wife's treatment schedules. Because of his experience, I chose Dr. Krongrad in Florida to perform LRP, and was able to schedule the surgery between the breast cancer treatments.

My wife and I drove to Florida from Maryland, arrived on Sunday; visited Dr. Krongrad and the hospital admissions department on Monday; had the surgery on Tuesday; walked around in the hospital Tuesday afternoon; left the hospital Wednesday; and enjoyed walking on the beach on Thursday.

Saturday morning we left for Maryland and amazingly had a pleasant drive up Interstate 95. We were back at work Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, I pulled out the catheter in the shower with no pain or side effects. Two weeks later (21 days after the operation) I shoveled two feet of snow off our porch roof with no difficulty or problems (see the attached photos). Not bad for a 65 year old, right?

My advice to men facing prostate cancer is to get yearly PSA tests, even if the insurance companies won't pay for them. Then, if the numbers start moving up, even if they are still low, get a biopsy done by a competent urologist. Read the pathology report on the biopsy, even if it was negative, to see if you think it was thorough. (There was a world of difference between the completeness of the two pathology reports on my biopsies.) Finally, if you catch you cancer early enough so that it still contained within the prostate, I recommend that you consider the LRP surgical technique as your solution. Experience counts in all types of surgery, so ask your doctor how many of these procedures he has performed. Dr. Krongrad had performed more than twice as many LRPs as any other surgeon that I asked.

Overall this was a pleasant experience. The hospital staff was friendly and obviously competent. Dr. Krongrad and his wife Ruth are nice people as well as competent and helpful. We got answers to all the questions we could think to ask, and were supported in our decision to get back to work as soon as possible. I never experienced any pain, and did not take any pain medications either in the hospital or on the way back to a full schedule. My post surgery pathology report gave me a clear bill of health on prostate cancer, which I hope to confirm with a zero PSA reading in a couple of months. What more could anyone want?

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A Washington man  forgoes  prostate cancer radiation treatment procedures so as to schedule surgery  between his wife's  breast cancer treatments.