You are here

Regular PSA Screenings Catch Prostate Cancer for Petersburg Man

March 9, 2018

“I can’t have cancer. That’s somebody else,” thought Richard Dennis when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Dennis, a retired Petersburg resident, had been active his entire life, walking two to three miles a day and working in his yard.

“I’d never had a symptom, I hadn’t had health issues, and I didn’t take medication,” said Dennis.

But a slowly elevating prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood level suggested otherwise. PSA is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. A PSA test uses a blood sample to measure the level of PSA in a man’s blood. The PSA blood level is often elevated in men with prostate cancer. Dennis actively recorded his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) after regular health exams and saw the levels slowly rise.

A biopsy showed that Dennis had low-grade prostate cancer. His first urologist gave him three options: watch it, treat it or remove it. Dennis and his wife decided to watch it using an approach called active surveillance.

However, concerns from Dennis’ primary care physician, also a cancer survivor, changed the couple’s decision. Dennis’ neighbor, a former SCI patient, referred him to Kevin McVary, MD, professor of surgery in the urology department at SIU Medicine.

“I called Dr. McVary’s office, and they asked me if I could come in the next day for an appointment. That had never happened to me before – an appointment the next day,” said Dennis.

McVary did an MRI which showed a large lesion in the front of the prostate that couldn’t have been found with biopsies. Like the previous biopsy, the lesion revealed a low-grade cancer. Armed with this new information and treatment options, the couple decided to have the cancerous prostate removed.

A robotic-assisted surgery allowed McVary to remove the prostate using a series of small incisions in the lower abdomen. Thanks to the minimally invasive surgery, Dennis was able to return home the following morning.

Today, Dennis stresses the importance of regular check-ups and testing – especially to his two sons who have a 40 percent chance of also having prostate cancer.

“I was lucky because the cancer was all contained in the prostate,” Dennis said. For Dennis, that meant no radiation and no chemotherapy.  A follow-up PSA confirmed the cancer had not spread. “It was a miracle,” said Dennis.

Simmons Cancer Institute recommends men discuss a PSA screening with their health care provider and weigh the risks and benefits. To schedule an appointment with a urologist at SIU Medicine, call 217-545-8000.


Additional Contact Information: Cindy Davidsmeyer, 217-545-3837