Jack Glatz

Jack Glatz – TPCSG (Tacoma Prostate Cancer Support Group)

CRYO-THERAPY
One Man’s Journey – My Battle with Prostate Cancer
By Jack A. Glatz
“Hello – Mr. Glatz?  This is Doctor Modarelli.  I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your biopsy results came back positive.  You have Prostate Cancer.”  These are the words that no man ever wants to hear – but if you live long enough, you will hear them!  Doctors and other experts will tell you that eventually, virtually all men will potentially develop Prostate Cancer (PCa).  The only reason we don’t all die from it is that something else kills us first – or we get PCa and then cure the disease.
There is the “80/80” rule that experts tell us about.  By age 80 years, 80% of men alive have (or have had) PCa, and the other 20% will get it – if they just live long enough.  So as you can see, this is a very, very serious and pervasive disease that every man must at least gain some knowledge of, and become educated about, in order to successfully deal with PCa when and if his time comes.
Prostate Cancer is not only a potentially killer disease that can take you life; it is also a terrible disease that can drastically degrade your quality of life – if your treatment for the disease carries with it the dreaded side effects of incontinence and/or impotence.  There is also the danger of “collateral damage” to other internal organs or tissues (colon, bladder, sphincters, etc.) if external or seed radiation is the treatment method used.  Now, medical science has come a long, long way in minimizing these terrible side effects of radical surgery and radiation in the treatment of PCa, but the incidence of these side effects is still (in my opinion) way too high.
Let me stop right here and declare that – I am not a Medical Doctor, and the facts and opinions expressed here are mine alone.  I have gained knowledge and opinions about PCa and treatments for PCa from extensive personal research and personal experience.  Sox with that in mind, let us proceed.
Cryo Ablation (or cryo therapy) of the prostate (killing cancer by rapid freeze and thaw cycles) is not a brand new treatment.  It actually started back in the 1960’s.  Back then, Doctors used liquid nitrogen to do the freezing procedure, and the quality of the ultra-sound imaging used to place the cryo-probes wasn’t nearly what it is today.  Plus, the use of urethral and nerve “warming” probes to protect tissue to be “spared” was practically non-existent compared to today.  So in the 60’s, although cryo worked for killing the cancer, the side effects were too great for cryo to be widely accepted.
Now comes the 1990’s.  Even though the cryo tools and procedures of the 1960’s were largely abandoned, the cryo concept survived and thrived.  With the great strides forward in computer and ultra-sound technology in the late 80’s and early 90’s, cryo therapy was resurrected, improved and perfected.  Today, cryo therapy is performed using state-of-the-art computer controlled procedures.  Computers map the prostate and recommend pinpoint placement of the freezing probes to obtain maximum cancer-killing effectiveness.  Argon gas is used for the freezing process, and precise temperature sensors and warming probes are used to protect tissues and organs from being inadvertently damaged in the cryo therapy treatment process.  Warming probes are used to protect the urethra, and nerve-sparing procedures and warming probes can be used to protect erectile nerves and preserve potency. Cryo therapy has evolved into what I now consider to be the uncontested, premier treatment for PCa.  In the mid-90’s, Medicare fully approved cryo therapy for primary and “salvage” treatment for PCa.  (Salvage treatment is using cryo on patients who had undergone [and failed] other PCa treatments)
Now, first and foremost in every man’s mind when considering a decision on PCa treatment is: does the treatment work?  I can tell you that recent long-term statistical results show that cryo therapy’s success is equal to or better than radical surgery or external and seed radiation – especially for higher Gleason scores (7 or higher).
Next in decision priority is:
a. Low or no side effects (incontinence/impotence and collateral damage).
b. Ease and speed of recovery after treatment.
c. Flexibility – can the procedure be repeated or can I employ another treatment if the first attempt is unsuccessful.
If you will refer to the “summary considerations” sheet at the end of this article, these decision points are explained in greater detail.
My own personal experience with cryo treatment was simply outstanding.  You can see from my medical history (also at the end of this article), I did not make my treatment decision lightly or in any great hurry.  I followed my own advice and really did my research and homework before deciding on cryo – one of the best decisions of my life.
I had my cryo treatment on 3 February 2004 (Tuesday).  I was released from the hospital the next day (Wednesday).  I took Thursday and Friday off from work.  I went back to work (financial management) on Monday morning, February 8th.  I removed my own supra-pubic catheter about two weeks later.
On 21 April 04, I returned to Dr. Hedges’ clinic for my post treatment follow-up.  The results of the check-up showed my PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) was “undetectable”.  Since then, after the effects of the Lupron drug I was taking wore off, and my testosterone production came back up, my PSA has stabilized at 0.5.  This is considered to be an acceptable PSA level after cryo, since the procedure does leave a little healthy prostate tissue in place due to the affect of the urethral warming catheter.  The results of the cystoscope exam (visual scope exam of the bladder, sphincters, urethra, etc.) were all completely normal – no collateral damage whatsoever.  So the procedure was a complete success.  I am cancer-free (as far as anybody knows), and there was no damage to any other organs or tissues.
If you are currently on your own PCa treatment decision journey, or if you just want to find out more about PCa treatment, there are many, many excellent Prostate Cancer web sites on the internet (just do a search for Prostate Cancer).  But if you are specifically researching cryo, I recommend you go to www.cryocarepca.org they also have a toll-free phone number: 1-877-722-2796.
In closing, I’d like you to know that testing and early diagnosis of PCa is absolutely essential no matter what treatment mode you eventually choose.  Please have your periodic PSA and digital exams faithfully.  As old Red Green likes to say, “I’m pullin’ for ya – we’re all in this together”.  My home phone number and e-mail address are listed below.  If I can help any of you on your journey from diagnosis through treatment to (hopefully) cure, please get in touch.
Good Health & Long Life
Cheers!
Jack Glatz (253)565-1450) jpglatz@comcast.net

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