How I spent my Summer Vacation
During my annual physical at the end of 2006, the PSA test results jumped from 2.8 to 4.8 in one year. Being 50 years old, my doctor recommended a biopsy. In February of 2007, the biopsy found one core of eight samples was cancerous with a Gleason score of 3+3. My local urologist highly recommended surgery, and was ready to schedule an appointment for me right away. I decided to do more investigations before making any decisions.
My father, who had been treated for prostate cancer 20 years ago at age 58, suggested that I go to one of the local prostate cancer support groups with him. The men were very open and shared a number of lessons learned and provided encouragement to the new comers, such as myself. At the end of this first session, a man gave an overview of his HIFU treatment in the Dominican Republic. He had some issues with the catheter but overall he was satisfied with the results. I'm pretty sure no one in the room, including my father, had ever heard of HIFU. I then started to investigate HIFU on my own. After doing on line research, I contacted USHIFU and asked to be able to talk to other men that had undergone this treatment. I spoke to a dozen guys, gathering information on their pre and post treatment and conditions. I was convinced, even though my doctors weren't, that HIFU would be the best option for me. See, my wife is 40 years old and we have two children, age 2 and 4. I want to be active and have the least amount of side effects or at least be able to minimize them. For an early stage, localized cancer, it appeared HIFU would be the best option for me.
I had HIFU treatment in Mexico on Saturday, June 16th, 2007. The hospital is small but clean and there was always someone around that spoke English. To people from the US, this would look like a very large clinic but to the locals, this hospital was where the "rich people" go. My wife is an RN and she was very comfortable with staff and treatment I experienced there. I arrived at the hospital at 11am and walked out around 6pm, a little dazed but feeling little pain. I was not awake for the treatment, which took about 3½ hours. I took Advil for the next week on a regular basis and this was all I needed to handle the pain, which was mainly due to the catheter that is poking out below the belly button.
We stayed in a local hotel with a view of the beach and I tried to follow the recommendations for medications, drinking lots of fluids, taking sitz baths, etc. I couldn't pass up the Mexican coffee after dinner though. We toured around Puerto Vallarta on Sunday and I had the catheter draining into a bag strapped on my leg. On Monday we flew home to California. While the catheter was very uncomfortable, I was able to work and get around with it for 17 days. I missed one day of work (Monday) while I was traveling back from Mexico on Monday.
After going through this, I would recommend people to stay home and really rest for the first week. I happen to work in an office and was able to work from home as needed so I could continue working but I was still very tired by the end of each day.
Within a month I was back to normal activities, including swimming, golfing, and having intercourse. Everything is functioning fine and I've not had problems with urinating, although when I need to go, it is more urgent than it was before. It is rare that I need to get up at night and go - no different than before the treatment. I now have a greater appreciation for basic bodily functions, for sure.
My follow up PSA took place 3 months after treatment and my PSA dropped to 1.1 from 6.0. At my six month check up, my PSA dropped to 0.8. It will not go to zero because there is still some small amount of tissue left, in order to protect the nerves and urinary tract. Two other men that were treated on the same day as I was. One reported his PSA to be down to 0.3 at three and six months and the other is at 1.0. In fact, the high majority of the men treated by HIFU that I interviewed have PSA scores of less than 1.0, which shows that HIFU is capable of getting the same results as the other treatment options. The benefit is faster healing time and less long term side effects.
The cost for my treatment was $23K US plus travel and hotel for 4 nights (approx $1500). If you are considering this treatment, I highly recommend that you contact people that have been through it to get the real facts (both positive and negative) about their experience. I spoke to 12 men and a couple of their wives before making the final decision about HIFU. All of them said they would do it again, but there were a few that had some difficulties (i.e. blocked catheter, urinary tract infection, which were temporary). Best to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best, they say.
May 2009 update: My last PSA test result was 1.1 (Dec 08). I've just gone in for my 2 year checkup and should have results in a week. My doctor says the PSA can go up 2.0 from the Nadir point, which for me was 0.6 at the 1 year mark. I have no negative side effects from the HIFU treatment, but I will monitor the PSA level closely for the next few years.
Latest PSA result in May 2009 is 0.9 and next month will be my two year anniversary since HIFU treatment. All is well.
June 2009 update: I've just had my 2 year check-up and latest PSA results are 0.9. I have no negative side effects from the HIFU treatment, but I will monitor the PSA level closely for the next few years.
December 2009 update: My Dec 2009 PSA test result was 0.6. This was my two and a half year check up. I continue to have no negative side effects from the HIFU treatment.
June 2010 update. My June PSA test result was 0.7. This was my 3 year check up. I continue to have no negative side effects from the HIFU treatment.
In preparation for my annual physical, my latest 4-2-2012 lab report shows my PSA result has lowered to 0.4. In June it will be 5 years since my HIFU treatment. From my perspective, this treatment met all of my expectations.
I'm also taking a supplement known as OPC-3. This dropped my cholesterol levels down 35% and may also be helping to lower my PSA to its lowest point ever.
Email me if you would like to know more. Cheers.
Next month marks six years since my original HIFU treatment. My PSA test this month remains stable at 0.59.
Last PSA test completed on 1/14/2014. PSA remains stable at 0.55 with no change in side affects.
On 9/25/2014, my annual PSA test showed a significant jump to 3.39. A second test verified the results. In November, after contacting my original doctor (Stephen Scionti) I went for a prostate specific MRI and an MRI guided targeted biopsy of the prostate in Sarasota. The biopsy confirmed a recurrence of prostate cancer. After considering the alternatives, I decided to have this small area retreated with HIFU on 2/28/2015 in Grand Cayman. It has only been 2 weeks but I'm back to all my regular activities. Only side effect at this time is a low stream of urine. I expect that to improve over the next month. Oh, and I'm running a 15K this weekend.
My 3 month follow up for the HIFU retreatment in Feb 2015 indicates a PSA of 0.04. That is 10X lower than the lowest metric I've ever had, before or after the original HIFU treatment. No side effects.
The follow up PSA from my second HIFU treatment (Feb 2015) remains at 0.04. No changes or side-effects.
No changes - last PSA test completed on 8-8-2016.
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