Dyer, IN, May 14, 2009 – Jack Slubowski was on the cutting edge of medical technology when he was the second person in the U.S. to donate a kidney (to his father) in 1979. Now, the 52-year-old from Dyer, Ind., again finds himself blazing a trail in early detection of prostate cancer.
Slubowski knew that one in six men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer among men. So when he learned he had elevated antigen levels in his prostate, he took immediate action that likely saved his life.
For Slubowski, a revolutionary prostate biopsy provided answers to why his prostate specific antigen (PSA) level rose from 4.1 to 4.2, eventually reaching 4.8.
The stereotactic transperineal prostate biopsy (STPB) performed at the Chicago Prostate Center detected a very small, treatable amount of cancer that would have been undiagnosed by traditional transrectal biopsies. “They took 115 samples from my prostate and discovered I had early stage cancer,” Slubowski explained. “It was caught early and saved me from more extreme prostate treatments down the road.”
Forty percent of men with prostate cancer may not even know they have it, according to a new research study by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago. The study revealed the standard office biopsy procedure often isn’t enough to properly detect prostate cancer. This new research was published in the February issue of Urology, a national medical journal.
Researchers in the study used an advanced biopsy technique called STPB. This was performed on patients with persistent elevated PSA levels who previously had at least one negative office biopsy. All patients had received transrectal prostate biopsies (TRPB), administered by a urologist.
“Men who have negative transrectal biopsies and continue to have elevated PSA levels should consider STPB because 40% will harbor malignancy,” says Michelle Braccioforte, director of research and education for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago.
STPB is performed by taking a median of 40 samples of the prostate through the perineum while the patient is under general anesthesia. Performed as an outpatient procedure, it allows more comprehensive sampling compared to the transrectal method, which takes fewer samples through the rectum. In addition, by taking more samples during STPB, the exact location of the cancer can be pinpointed.
Between April 2004 and January 2008, 747 patients with high PSA levels were studied. All patients had been tested using TRPB at least once and all results had been negative. All patients received the STPB. Biopsy results identified the presence of cancer in 291 (39%) of the patients.
Slubowski, who participated in this study and opted to treat his cancer with radiation seed implants, owns and operates Homewood Kitchen and Bath, a demanding job in which he works 40 to 60 hours per week. He also golfs, works out three to four days per week and enjoys the outdoors and go-kart racing with his fiancé. His active lifestyle has remained unchanged since his diagnosis and both the biopsy and treatment were painless. “I was a little sore after my STPB, but it went away quickly,” he explains. “After watching my dad die of kidney failure, any amount of discomfort is worth it to me, to not have to experience a debilitating illness like he did.”
In 1979, Slubowski was the second person in the U.S. (and first in Illinois) to become a kidney donor when he donated one to his father. His father lived approximately two more years after Slubowski’s generous donation.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men. For those with elevated or rising PSA levels, this is a sign that further testing should be administered to rule out prostate cancer.
“The information obtained from this kind of comprehensive biopsy allows us to design and perform more sophisticated treatment plans,” says Dr. Brian Moran of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago and the Chicago Prostate Cancer Center. This procedure is also a stepping stone toward focal therapy, where more limited treatment can result in fewer side effects, yet achieve cure rates equal to more radical forms of treatment.”