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Patients speak about prostate cancer and laparoscopic radical prostatectomy

Burton Becker, DDS, Tucson, Arizona

I am a 63 year old periodontist (gums and implants) in private practice in Tucson. I have always led an active life. I spend time lecturing around the world and recently finished a six-year term as Director and Chairman of the American Board of Periodontology.

I scheduled my routine physical for May of 2004 and had my blood work at the lab next door to me. They sent me a copy of the report and I noticed that my prostate specific antigen, PSA, was 4.7 ng/ml. In March of 2003 it had been 3.7 ng/ml. At that time I thought I it was slightly high but was not concerned. When I went to my internist for the physical in May, instead of doing the usual rectal exam he explained that at a PSA of 4.7 I needed a urologist to do the prostate examination.

I made the appointment thinking this would be routine. The PSA was repeated and was 4.6. My urologist suggested a prostate biopsy, which I accepted. At the first visit I asked about laparoscopic prostate removal if there were a problem. I was ignored. The biopsy came back positive for cancer Gleason score 3+3=6 in 5/8 cores. I was told by my urologist to schedule a bone scan and a consultation which I did.

Independently I began looking for information on prostate cancer. My wife is a med-surg nurse for 40 years. She had seen men suffer through historical radical retropubic prostatectomy and she encouraged me to examine more prostate cancer treatments.

As it was, my best friend and referring dentist had already had Dr. Krongrad do laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, LRP, one year previously and I remembered his story. I immediately called him. He told me the whole story that night at dinner. I did my own research of the literature on the net and had made my decision that if the prostate had to be removed, this was the way I was going to do it. My wife heartily agreed.

My wife and I went to my urologist for the consultation. He asked if a lady resident from the med school could sit in, which I consented to. I then got a one-hour lecture on urology. He barely acknowledged LRP, and when I brought up speed of recovery, less pain, he just said if I were an Olympic athlete maybe it would be for me. This irritated me, as my dental surgeries are very athletic and I walk 3-4 miles every day, which I did not want to give up for 6 weeks. I told him I was going to have LRP with Dr. Arnon Krongrad in FL. He shook his shoulders and told me that I could not return to his office for one year.

I had already been in contact with Dr. Krongrad and Hope, his cheery coordinator, who took me through the hoops necessary to get ready for my surgery. I had emailed Dr. Krongrad and was amazed that each email was answered promptly and professionally in less that half a day. I was scheduled for Aug. 24, 2004. She helped me arrange all the necessary tests, which convinced me how thorough Dr. Krongrad is in selecting his cases.

The minute I met Dr. Krongrad the day before the surgery all anxiety immediately left me. As a surgeon myself I was nervous until then. I slept like a baby the night before the surgery. Everywhere I went in the hospital to register all I heard was "Oh, you're Dr. Krongrad's patient … you'll be bouncing around with no pain immediately." This put me totally at ease.

I arrived at the hospital and was the second surgery that day. To my surprise, Dr. Krongrad took me right on the minute to the OR. Two hours later he paged my wife and told her all went well. The next thing I knew was I was awake and felt no pain.

I was taken to my room and the recovery was routine. I never took a pill of any kind. I walked in the hospital about 5 hours after the surgery and I drove on the 3rd day and was eating corn beef sandwiches by the 5th day and visiting friends in Florida. I retuned to Tucson 1 week later, feeling tired but not in pain. I was able to do my entire three-mile walk at a moderate pace by the 15th day. My brother and partner and all my professional friends were amazed.

Dr. Krongrad informed me my cancer was completely removed even though the pathology report showed it to be a higher grade tumor then was determined before the surgery. Even though I am done he still immediately answers my post operative questions

The day is near when the urology community at large wakes up and makes LRP the standard of care everywhere. LRP is the only way to go and Dr. Krongrad is the best choice for LRP.

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A periodontal surgeon and his nurse wife go looking for information on prostate cancer treatments.