Active retiree Larry Fenster, 80, is a problem-solver. Rather than feel helpless when diagnosed with prostate cancer, he did some research, right alongside his physicians.
For several years, the Manhasset, NY, resident—an avid golfer who enjoys traveling with his wife, Bonnie —watched his concentration of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) rise from a “normal” score, below 4.0 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), all the way up to 10.
A biopsy did not, at first, show cancer, but his urologist, Robert Waldbaum, MD, at the Smith Institute for Urology, ordered parametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). That scan revealed a mass in Larry’s prostate, and a directed re-biopsy confirmed that he had stage 2 cancer. Dr. Waldbaum referred him to Louis Potters, MD, Northwell’s chair of radiation medicine and deputy physician-in-chief of radiation at the Cancer Institute.
That’s when Larry found out that he was a prime candidate for brachytherapy, or radioactive seed therapy, which would allow him to avoid surgery and traditional radiation therapy. Most frequently, older men and those with low-risk disease can elect active surveillance rather than initial treatment. But Dr. Potters determined that Larry’s risk of disease, coupled with his active lifestyle, meant intervention was the best approach. During the 50-minute outpatient procedure, Dr. Potters implanted radioactive seeds individually into Larry’s prostate, using an ultrasound to target them precisely.
Seed therapy has been around for 25 years, and is undergoing a resurgence. Side effects include more frequent and bothersome urination, sometimes with a mild burning sensation that usually resolves in six to 12 weeks. But each man’s experience is different, and Larry said he had few side effects.