What he thought was an ordinary drive home from watching a spring training baseball game in Ft. Myers, Fla., turned out to be a defining moment in Scott’s life.
On March 24, 2006, Scott, his wife Cathy and a couple of friends enjoyed an afternoon watching the New York Yankees take on the Minnesota Twins. While returning home to Naples, Fla., Scott answered a call on his cell phone from his urologist, Dr. David Spellberg.
Just a couple months before, Scott had been referred to Dr. Spellberg because, during a routine physical, his family physician discovered that Scott’s Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) level had gone up by more than a point and a half, to 3.68, in just a year. That fateful March day, Dr. Spellberg called with Scott’s biopsy results. He had prostate cancer. “I was devastated,” said Scott, who had just turned 61. “I thought I was too healthy and too young. I thought I was invincible and that there was no way my biopsy would show cancer.”
At the time of his diagnosis, Scott had been retired for about six years and was enjoying fly fishing, golfing and traveling with his wife. He had four young grandchildren who he expected to spend time with as they grew up. “As a doctor, I imagined the worst possible outcome,” he said. “I was afraid it was one of the types of prostate cancer that might spread quickly.”
After taking a few days to deal emotionally with his diagnosis, Scott began extensive research on prostate cancer and the various treatments. He spoke with a number of prostate cancer patients about their treatments and the problems they encountered. He conferred with several internists and urologists. He also spoke with his youngest son, a cardiology resident in Boston, who asked his colleagues about their thoughts on the options available to his father. Around the same time, one of Scott’s friends attended a prostate cancer seminar at Naples Community Hospital and brought him back information about the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System.
“When I read the brochure, I was excited to talk more to Dr. Spellberg about whether I was a candidate for the CyberKnife,” Scott recalled. Together they decided that CyberKnife treatment was the best option to meet Scott’s needs.
“What convinced me to choose this treatment were two main things. The first was the sub-millimeter precision of the radiation beam. The second was how the CyberKnife technology can detect slight motion of the prostate during treatment and then stop to recalibrate. These features enable the tumor to be treated accurately, with little risk of radiation to the normal adjacent tissues,” he said. The convenience of needing just five days of treatment was an additional factor that appealed to him. “Once I made the decision to go ahead with the CyberKnife, I felt a calmness and relief that I wouldn’t have to deal with the potential serious complications.”
On April 27, 2006, Scott had a CT scan and MRI so that Dr. Jay Friedland, a radiation oncologist, could locate the 40 gram tumor and develop a treatment plan. Treatment with the CyberKnife System began on May 8 at Naples Community Hospital and lasted for five consecutive days. “Each session lasted about an hour, and throughout the treatment I was able to relax and listen to my own music in a pleasant room,” Scott said. “And after the treatment with the CyberKnife was finished, I rested for no more than a day and then resumed my normal activities.”
The treatment didn’t slow Scott down. Scott said that although he was told to expect fatigue, he never felt overly tired. Only in the short-term did he experience urinary urgency and a one-day bout of diarrhea immediately after his course of treatment was complete. Just two days after the treatment ended, he was back out on the golf course, playing 18 holes with his friends.
The results of CyberKnife treatment exceeded Scott’s expectations. Within six months of his treatment, Scott’s PSA level was down to 0.7, and seven years later has gone even lower, averaging between 0.1 and 0.4 at his regular check-ups.
“If the patient is the right candidate,” Scott added, “the decision to go with the CyberKnife is a no-brainer.”
As of the completion of this patient profile, Scott found his CyberKnife treatment to be successful.