ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Duane Cera went to the doctor about a year ago and his prostate specific antigen level was at 14. Doctors consider PSA levels of 3.9 or lower to be normal. Soon after, he found out he had prostate cancer.
Cera was told he could have it removed or undergo 40 sessions of radiation. He didn’t like either option.
“If they don’t get it all and does come back next time, they have to go in and remove it and the removal is gonna be a lot more risky,” Cera said. “It gets you nervous that people say that at a certain age you can not do anything about it, just watch it, but I didn’t want to do that either.”
Cera and his wife Diane decided to get another opinion after seeing an ad for High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, or HIFU, through Rochester Regional Health. Dr. John Valvo met with the Cera’s.
“We reviewed his material biopsy results, results of his MRI and other body scans, and felt he would be a good candidate for minimally invasive treatment prostate cancer. And he accepted that and we treated him,” said Dr. Valvo.
Dr. Valvo said HIFU treats the cancer in the prostate without sacrificing the entire gland. It’s been approved in the U.S. since 2018, but insurance companies just started covering it as of January 1 of this year.
“For many men this becomes a very viable option, most importantly it can be repeated if necessary,” Dr. Valvo said.
The outpatient procedure lasts about an hour and doctors follow up every three months. Cera said after getting the procedure in October, his last PSA test level was a .97.
“It was very simple and everybody was very pleasant I was in and out,” he said of the procedure. “I feel like I dodged a bullet here, and I hope I did, and I feel good about people that are taking care of me right now.”
Dr. Valvo said men may be eligible if the cancer is localized to prostate and isn’t high risk or aggressive. His advice to everyone is to get a second opinion.
The University of Rochester Medical Center also offers HIFU treatment. Dr. Thomas Frye said his experience with HIFU over the past two years has been positive. He said men seek this treatment as a way to treat their cancer while also putting an emphasis on their quality of life. Dr. Frye said the side effects from HIFU are considerably lower than with traditional surgery or radiation treatments.
He said not all men are good candidates for HIFU, but when chosen appropriately they have cancer control results comparable to surgery. He said insurance coverage continues to be a barrier, but is improving. Dr. Frye said this is certainly not a technology which is going away anytime soon.