Jason Butcher needed to urinate urgently and often — a problem that should not be happening to a man yet to enter his 40s. He knew something was wrong, but nothing could prepare him for his diagnosis: prostate cancer.
It was a shock, especially for a 38-year-old who exercises regularly and eats the kind of diet that medical experts tout.
|Jason Butcher, right, and his wife, Tabea Jaeckel (Photo courtesy of Jason Butcher)|
Prostate cancer is the top cancer diagnosis in men and the second leading cause of cancer death behind lung cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 217,000 U.S. men will be diagnosed with the disease this year and more than 32,000 will die of it. Most prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over 60, not men like Butcher.
Yet researchers have found that prostate cancer is becoming more common in men in their 50s and younger. Some cancers in younger men may be more aggressive, suggesting the need for more aggressive treatment, but these men also have significant concerns about their quality of life over the decades ahead. Recommending the right treatment requires unique expertise — and an ability to listen to what men want.
“The first prostate surgeon I met with about my cancer wanted to go in immediately and cut everything out,” said Butcher, of Claremont, Calif. “I was newly married and had three young kids. I felt I needed better options.”
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine and semen, and is located between the rectum and the bladder. Physicians usually find prostate cancer while it is still confined to the gland. It can be treated by removing the prostate, called a prostatectomy. The gland is surrounded by nerves and sensitive tissue, though, and any damage to the area during a prostatectomy may cause incontinence, erectile dysfunction or impotence.
Seeking other choices, Butcher met with City of Hope’s David Josephson, M.D., clinical assistant professor in the Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology.
“Dr. Josephson gave me options — options and hope,” said Butcher. “We’re about the same age, and I felt that he understood my concerns about the surgery and the potential side effects of treatment.”
Butcher clinically had stage T3 or locally advanced prostate cancer, Josephson said, which means the cancer had spread just beyond the prostate. Josephson recommended a three-pronged treatment approach involving a minimally invasive robotic prostatectomy using the daVinci Surgical System, followed by radiation therapy and hormone therapy. The pathology report showed evidence of disease in one of many resected lymph nodes.
Butcher finishes his therapy later this month.
“I can’t wait to be done,” he said. “It can seem really hard, all the treatments and recovering from surgery, but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”
Butcher says he has no lingering side effects from his prostatectomy. He credits Josephson’s expertise with the robot. Josephson credits Butcher’s healthy lifestyle habits for giving him a head start on a full recovery.
September throws a spotlight on prostate cancer
by Alicia Di Rado
Fall brings football, tailgating, college rivalries and … prostate exams?
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and City of Hope is part of the effort to spread the word about early detection of the disease.
City of Hope will present a free Ask the Experts session about prostate cancer on Sept. 14. The event will offer community members a chance to hear the latest news directly from physicians about prostate cancer treatment, as well as an opportunity to ask questions.
Surgeon Timothy Wilson, M.D., Pauline and Martin Collins Family Chair in Urology and director of the Prostate Cancer Program, and radiation oncologist Khanh H. Nguyen, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology, will speak.
The event is cosponsored by the American Urological Association’s AUA Foundation and the National Football League, as well as the two groups’ joint effort to raise prostate cancer awareness: KnowYourStats.org. Visit KnowYourStats.org and www.cityofhope.org/prostate to learn more about prostate cancer screening and risk factors.
Ask the Experts will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., Sept. 14, in Cooper Auditorium. Light refreshments will be served. To R.S.V.P., call 800-535-1390, ext. 65669.