Less Risk of Side Effects Gave Michigan Man the Courage to Take on Prostate Cancer

Author: Leslie Toldo

In 2018 Bob Floria applied for life insurance.  He had to have a physical before the insurance company would approve him.  Because his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test results showed something suspicious, the insurer would not cover him.  Bob did not follow up on the PSA results until four years later.  

“I was really tired. I wasn’t functioning at my normal level. I have sleep apnea and AFib, so I thought it might be that at first,” Bob said. “But I was also going to the bathroom much more frequently.  So, I went to the doctor.”

During that visit, the doctor checked Bob’s PSA level since frequent urination can be a symptom of prostate issues. Bob’s PSA jumped from 11, when the insurance company refused to grant him a policy, to 18. 

“They did a biopsy and found out I had prostate cancer,” Bob said. “An oncologist talked to me about my options, which were surgery and radiation.  I did not like the potential side effects with either of those.”

Impotence and incontinence are among the potential side effects of both radiation and prostatectomy (removal of the prostate).  So, Bob started researching in hopes of finding another way to fight his cancer.

“The Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint gave me a booklet with a lot of information in it about treatments, including proton therapy.  I knew right away that was what I wanted to do,” Bob said.

Proton therapy is a less invasive form of radiation.  X-rays used in traditional radiation move through the body to the tumor, then keep going, leaving an exit dose of radiation on the opposite side of the targeted area.  Protons can be targeted more specifically to tumors where they deliver the radiation and then stop moving through the body.

“Since protons leave no exit dose, there is less risk of damage to healthy tissues behind the tumor,” said McLaren Proton Therapy Center Radiation Oncologist Dr. Christian Hyde.  “For patients, that can mean less risk of side effects during and long after treatment.”

For Bob, who works a very physical job hanging signs at businesses, fewer side effects made proton therapy an attractive option.

“With proton therapy, I was able to work a full-time job all the way through treatments. I operated cranes and dug holes, working 50 hours a week. I didn’t have side effects.” Bob said.

Before his treatments even started, Bob said he had complete confidence in what the outcome would be, largely because he trusted Dr. Hyde.  “Dr. Hyde is not only a great doctor, but he took the time to draw pictures to explain what was happening.  It really was great.”

Now, Bob is glad he found the courage to take on prostate cancer and become a survivor.

“I think my fear of side effects is why I did not follow up after that first PSA test for the insurance company,” Bob said. “Now I know that part of your success with treatment is having a positive attitude.  I tell anyone I know who is facing cancer to have hope.”

If you are interested in learning more about proton therapy and whether you are a candidate, visit mclaren.org/protontherapy.