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Prostate cancer — Early detection provides treatment options

September 20, 2019

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer among men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But prostate cancer is often slow to grow and spread. For this reason, and because of early detection, prostate cancer has one of the highest survival rates of any type of cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the most common screening tool for prostate cancer is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This blood test measures the presence of PSA circulating in the bloodstream and is usually the first step in any prostate cancer diagnosis.

For 77-year-old Roger Marquardt of Rhinelander, early detection for his case of prostate cancer came as the result of his management of other health problems.

“Given my issues, I had been having a PSA test every six months,” Marquardt said. “A significant jump in my numbers from one test to the next led to further testing to confirm that I had prostate cancer.”

That result introduced him to Dr. Daryl Barton, a radiation oncologist with Radiation Oncology Specialists on staff at the James Beck Cancer Center located at Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital.

“One of the benefits of early detection is it allows us to consider all of the options for effective treatment,” Barton said. “In Roger’s case we determined an aggressive plan of 40 radiation treatments over two months was the best course of action.”

That treatment plan sends Marquardt to the James Beck Cancer Center several times a week.

“It’s a relief to be able to get this level of care close to where I live,” Marquardt said. “The convenience and time required allow me to keep doing the things I enjoy which means time outdoors hunting and fishing.”

This year, an estimated 175,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 31,000 will die from the disease, according to ACS statistics. Many men with prostate cancer never experience symptoms and, without screening, would never know they had the disease.

“The ACS statistics also show the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50 and that more than half of prostate cancer cases are found in men older than 65,” Barton said.

The major risk factors for developing prostate cancer include having a father or brother with prostate cancer and/or an unhealthy diet. In fact, studies indicate men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of developing prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men and in Caribbean men of African ancestry than in men of other races. African-American men are also more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. Prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites. The reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are not clear.

Marquardt said another key factor in the success of his treatment is the open and honest relationship he has enjoyed with his medical providers.  

“It’s important to listen and trust the experts,” he said.

Communication and trust combined with his positive attitude and sense of humor, Marquardt said he hopes to live until he is 100 and looks forward to his other interest in life, traveling. In fact, after completing his radiation treatment, he is eager to begin planning his next trip with his wife, a European cruise.

The James Beck Cancer Center at Ascension St. Saint Mary's Hospital is a regional source for cancer services in the Northwoods. Its goal is to nurture long, close relationships and ongoing care with cancer patients, whether in the form of future treatments, palliative care, rehabilitation, check-ups, support groups or providing additional information. The goal is to meet every need of every patient, and to be a trusted resource for their families.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call 715-361-2140 or visit ascension.org/wisconsin.

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