When Bayside resident John Lyons, 70, a life-long baseball fan and pitcher for the Hempstead Generals, was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year, he worried the treatment would interfere with his game schedule.
Winthrop-University Hospital's Radiation Oncology Center specialists stepped up to the plate, assuring him that he'd be able to juggle both his treatments and games without concern.
Today, he's back on the field and in good health thanks to early detection and prompt, flexible treatment sessions offered at Winthrop.
Prostate cancer occurs when cells grow uncontrollably, creating small tumors within the prostate. The tumors can block the flow of urine and, if untreated, may potentially spread through the lymphatic system and the bloodstream to other parts of the body, where they grow secondary tumors.
According to the American Urological Association, the disease is the second-leading cause of male cancer deaths in the U.S., but with early detection, treatments such as radiation or surgery are most likely to be effective.
"Early stages typically do not exhibit symptoms and that's why it's critical men make it a priority to get checked," explained Dimitri Kessaris, MD, Attending Urologist, Winthrop- University Hospital. "Prostate cancer is most commonly detected through simple screening tests, including the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam. We encourage men, starting at the age of 45, to begin making appointments for regular check-ups. It can save your life." Mr. Lyons began receiving checkups 10 years ago at age 60. When Dr.
Kessaris informed him that his PSA levels jumped to 8.0 ng/ml, four points above the normal level, and a biopsy confirmed prostate cancer, he advised him to seek treatment at Winthrop. Under the care of Jonathan Haas, MD, Associate Director of Radiation Oncology at Winthrop, and Dr. Kessaris, Mr. Lyons began five weeks of radiation in mid-April.
"Every morning I went to Winthrop for treatment and if I had a ball game, I went straight to the field afterwards," he explained. "Sometimes I'd play double-headers after my visit and I was fine. I'd come back to the Hospital the next day and I'd go through treatment all over again. It wasn't an agonizing experience because the entire staff, from the top down, treated me like a person and not a number." After radiation concluded, Mr.
Lyons went in for outpatient surgery in July to have brachytherapy radiation seeds implanted. In and out in one day, he was back on the field a week later. The treatment was a success: Mr.
Lyons' recent CAT scan showed that his prostate seeds were in an excellent position and there's no evidence of disease.
"When he was referred to the Center, my staff focused on putting him at ease about the course of treatment he'd undergo," explained Dr. Haas.
"After several days, surprisingly his games became more important than his disease! He's the first patient I ever worked with where I had to schedule treatments around ball games, but we were more than happy to help him beat cancer and get back on the field in good health." Dr. Haas advises that men should be regularly screened by their urologist or internist. If diagnosed with prostate cancer and radiation is deemed appropriate, contact Winthrop's Radiation Oncology Center at (516) 663-2501 for more information and an appointment.