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Patients speak about prostate cancer and laparoscopic radical prostatectomy

Peter Gannon, Rapid City, SD

My introduction to prostate problems started a number of years ago. My problem started out getting up every two to three hours during the night to urinate. I decided to see a urologist to find out what the cause of the problem was. He did a rectal exam and found I had an enlarged prostate. The PSA test was 5.2 ng/ml, with them saying that up to 4.0 is normal. My urologist was not that concerned about the elevation and decided to put me on Cardura, which helps reduce the size of an enlarged prostate.

The Cardura seemed to work for about four to five months but then it was back to the same routine at night. The doctor suggested I have microwave prostate surgery. This is a procedure where they insert a thermometer in your rectum and insert a probe into your urethra and then microwave your prostate gland to shrink it. I ended up having three of these total.

My urologist suggested I have a TURP to open up the bladder. On December 16th, 2002, I went in for the surgery. My urologist informed me on the 19th of December the test results on the tissue he removed during the TURP came back positive for cancer. 

The next visit was with an oncologist to find out about a seed implant. He informed me because I had a TURP a seed implant was not possible. He also told me my cancer was a Gleason Score 10, the highest grade and most aggressive form.  He informed me I had to make a decision quickly. If I chose to do radiation he wanted to start treating me with hormones right away. 

I went home with my mind just whirling not knowing what to do. I know I had heard enough about cancer but never thought it would happen to me. I worried more about lung cancer being a heavy smoker for fifty years. I did find having a Gleason Score 10 was more than likely caused by being a heavy smoker.

I read a book my son gave me for Christmas about prostate cancer. The book was Man to Man, in which the patient talked about Dr. Patrick Walsh, the one who did his surgery.  I called John Hopkins and talked to one of Dr. Walsh’s assistants and was told they would not consider operating on me because of the cancer being a Gleason Score 10. Now I was really scared and did not know what to do. All I could think of was dying from this disease.
I then called Dr. Krongrad. I talked with Ruth and she informed me Dr. Krongrad was in surgery and would get back to me later. I thought “yeah, right.” Amazingly, he called me back that evening at 9:30 PM, which really surprised me. He informed me I would need to fax my biopsy report, PSA test results, and some of my medical history and he would get back to me as soon as he had time to review the information.

Two days later Dr. Krongrad called and had me set up the date and time for my prostate cancer surgery with Ruth. She also made an appointment with Dr. Pollak, a cardiologist, in Miami.  I had a checkup on January 28th. I might add it was one of the best exams I have ever had. Dr. Pollak was very concerned with the condition of my lungs and started me on medication and a nebulizer right away. I went back to the motel and started the treatments without delay. By Friday January 31st I was ready for surgery.

Dr Krongrad knew my lungs were going to be a problem because LRP requires general anesthesia and had an anesthesiologist lined up to take care of that problem. The surgery went very well and I did not have any pain. Dr. Krongrad released me from the hospital and wanted to see me on the 5th of February. I got to go home on the 6th of February.

I cannot say enough about Dr. Krongrad and Ruth. They took special care from the time I arrived in Florida until the time I went home. Dr. Krongrad also emailed me on a regular basis just to check up on me. Eighty days after surgery my incontinence has cleared up and I can honesty say it was never really all that bad.

Dr. Krongrad suggested I follow up the surgery with radiation treatments as the cancer had spread out side the prostate. After returning from Florida, I went to the Rapid City Cancer Institute and met with Dr. Drummond and he suggested I wait for about six months before we started radiation treatment. It was almost a year before I started treatment.  I had to take 27 treatments of radiation but praise the Lord they got it all.
It is now 2008, almost six years from the time I was diagnosed with Gleason Score 10 prostate cancer. I just had my annual checkup last week and my PSA was <0.1 ng/ml. I thank God on a daily basis for finding Dr. Krongrad.
Why do I call prostate cancer the silent killer? Because there were no warning signs. I felt really good and was never ill or on any medication for it. The next thing I know is I have it and it is as bad as it can get.

Dr. Krongrad told me almost six years later I was a walking miracle and that he really had second thoughts about taking me because the cancer grade was so high. Thank you Ruth and Dr. Krongrad. You two will always be our heroes and in our prayers.

Gleason Score 10 radical prostatectomy Patrick Walsh