Flint Man Understood His Prostate Health, Now Cancer-free After Proton Therapy

Proton Therapy Patient Encourages African American Men to Prioritize Prostate Health

Author: Jasmine Brown

It has been eight years of active surveillance for prostate cancer, and Bob Campbell has some exciting news to share.

“At my last checkup with my urologist, my PSA was less than 0.1, which is the lowest it could possibly be,” said Bob.

Bob was diagnosed in 2012 with low-grade prostate cancer.

“I saw my urologist every six months for an exam and PSA draw,” explained Bob. “Things were pretty steady for about seven years. Then my PSA started to gradually pick up.”

In March of 2020, Bob was sent for a prostate biopsy. It was then determined that he had high-grade cancer and needed to go through treatment. After reviewing the options of surgery and traditional radiation, he chose proton therapy at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center.

“What I liked about the proton option is the targeted, precise nature of the application of the radiation,” said Bob. “The fact that as the beam enters the body it’s focused solely on the treatment area, so there is no exit path through the body and there’s not as wide of a radiated area, which might affect nearby organs. I was very much attracted to the idea of the precision of the treatment.”

Bob also had some background information on proton therapy. As a communications professional at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, he had written an article on Genesee County’s newest advanced technology to fight cancer. Just months before he decided to have proton therapy treatments, Bob had toured the McLaren Proton Therapy Center for a media event.

“Even then, I was sitting there during the presentation and in the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘This may be an option for me down the road,’ knowing that I was already in an active surveillance situation with my own prostate health.”

Bob started treatment in June of 2020 with radiation oncologist Hesham Gayar, MD, who is also the medical director of the McLaren Proton Therapy Center. Dr. Gayar says Bob’s results are exactly what he had hoped they would be.

“Bob tolerated proton therapy very well,” explained Dr. Gayar. “We had to treat Bob’s prostate, as well as his pelvic lymph nodes. Because proton therapy stops at the target, we were able to avoid his bowels and spare him significant side effects. If we would have treated Bob with conventional radiation, he may have experienced significant bowel issues. His progress has been excellent, and his results are the best that we could have expected.”

“There was no pain during treatment. I work out several times a week and I was able to maintain my workout schedule, which includes strength training, calisthenics and running, without any difficulties,” said Bob.

The radiation oncologists at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center work closely with each patient’s cancer care team to ensure the proper care during and after treatment. Dr. Gayar was in constant communication with Bob’s doctors.

“I think the communication has been terrific. My urologist received the updated information regarding my treatment status and was aware of the schedule,” explained Bob. “Dr. Gayar also kept my primary care physician abreast of my status.”

“The proton therapy course is coordinated with the patient’s physician team and discussed in physician peer review conferences,” said Dr. Gayar. “The treatment plan is carefully designed and personalized for each patient’s case and shared with the patient. We also share the plan and progress during and after treatment with the patient’s primary doctor and other physicians involved in the patient’s follow up care.”

After nine-and-a-half weeks, Bob finished his proton therapy treatments in August. When it comes to prostate cancer prevention, he encourages men, especially African American men, to get routine checkups.

“When it comes to Black men, we get prostate cancer earlier than other men and it tends to be more deadly because by the time we have been diagnosed, it may have progressed too far,” said Bob. “I learned about my diagnosis a while back and knew how important it was to maintain surveillance in order to treat the cancer before it was too late.”

According to the American Cancer Society, around one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. African American men are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, and they are twice as likely to die than any other race. Having the knowledge about your risks and receiving prostate exams regularly is the best way to catch the disease early and prevent death.

Men should begin prostate screenings regularly at age 50, however, some men may need to begin screenings at an earlier age if they are considered high risk. Besides African American men, those who are also at a high risk of prostate cancer are men who:

  • Have a family history of prostate cancer, especially a father, son or brother who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65. A man’s risk increases when he has more than one close family member who has been diagnosed;
  • Consume a high-fat diet.

McLaren Flint has primary care providers accepting new patients within four weeks or less. Men who need a new physician and would like to schedule an exam may visit mclaren.org/flintnewpatient or call 1-877-McLAREN (1-877-625-2736).

Visit the McLaren Proton Therapy Center’s website at mclaren.org/protontherapy to view patient stories of Dave and Eugene, who also were treated with proton therapy for prostate cancer. To find out if proton therapy is for you, or if you would like a second opinion, call 1-855-MY-PROTON (1-855-697-7686).