Most people don't want to hear their doctor say the word "cancer" even once in their lifetime, much less twice. For Carroll "Ray" Bush of Wisconsin Rapids, cancer has been an all too familiar word.
In 1991 Bush was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney. After removal of the diseased kidney, he thought that he was out of the woods. Then in 1999 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. "My doctor (Michael Seelen, MD, Marshfield Clinic urologist) recommended that I have a prostate seed implant. He told me about the procedure and said it was relatively new," said Bush.
Prostate seed implant, also known as brachytherapy, is a form of radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer. Radioactive "seeds," tiny capsules of radioactive material the size of a grain of rice, are placed in the prostate using a needle guided by ultrasound imaging. The implants stay in place permanently and become inactive after about 10 months. The procedure allows for the most effective use of radiation with the least amount of damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
"They did the implants in October. After the procedure, my wife and I left to spend the winter in Texas. When we came back I went in for a check-up and my prostate had shrunk. I've never had a lick of trouble with (the implants) at all," Ray explained.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 198,100 new cases of prostate cancer, the leading cause of cancer in men, were diagnosed in 2001. If detected early, prostate cancer is one of the most treatable cancers, with 100 percent of patients with local or regional stages of the disease surviving, according to the ACS.
"Screening for prostate cancer is extremely important," said Dr. Seelen. "Men should begin having prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests and digital rectal examinations beginning at age 50. Men with higher risk - African-Americans or men with a family history of the disease - should begin yearly testing as young as 40."
Treatments for prostate cancer can vary depending on the stage of the disease. Most early stage prostate cancer can be treated with surgery, external beam radiation therapy, prostate seed implants or, in some instances, watchful waiting. Clinical trials also are an option for patients with certain stages of prostate cancer. A clinical trial tests current treatment methodology against new treatment options to find better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, and/or treat diseases. There are currently more than 120 clinical trials available to cancer patients within the Marshfield Clinic system. Men should talk with their physicians to determine which options are most appropriate for them.
Because of the treatment Ray received at Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Saint Joseph's Hospital, he is able to get back to his carpentry and volunteer work. He recently worked on a project to create a life-size Nativity set which was displayed in Wisconsin Rapids. "I just want to thank God, my doctors, and their staff for my recovery from cancer. The care I received was kind and professional," he said.