Archive for July, 2016

Update from Bob Marckini

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

bt-2016-07aThis latest write-up from Bob Marckini is so chock full of interesting information and developments, I thought this would be worth reprinting. This is the latest newsletter from the “Brotherhood of the Balloon” group.


Dear Members:

When I chose proton therapy for my prostate cancer almost 16 years ago, I did so for two primary reasons: 1) After exhaustive research, I truly believed my chances for disease-free survival with proton therapy were at least as good as surgery or any other major treatment option, and likely better, because the margins around the prostate were also targeted by the proton beam, and 2) After interviewing literally dozens of former patients, I was convinced that my chances of maintaining urinary function and sexual potency were best with proton.

There was also a third reason I chose proton: Believing that the quality of my life would be significantly better with proton therapy, I rationalized that, even if I had a recurrence five, 10 or 20 years later, research would likely produce new ways to deal with returning cancer. Meanwhile, the quality of my life would be excellent.

How right I was.

In the past few years there has been an explosion of new technologies relating to prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment. New imaging technologies, such as 3-Tesla multi-parametric MRI, color Doppler ultrasound, C-11 Acetate PET Scan and C-11 Choline PET scan, to name a few, are able to detect minute traces of cancer.

The Opko 4K score, Prostate Health Index, ConfirmMDx, genomic tests that measure the molecular biology of a patient’s prostate cancer and a new test to determine the presence of exosomes (chemical messengers) have been developed. These tests help greatly in cancer detection as well as determining the level of aggressiveness.

In 2015, the FDA approved 45 new drugs, the most in two decades. And 225 are expected to be approved over the next five years. New drugs and drug combinations have been discovered that can slow or stop the progression of recurrent cancer. And new, or upgraded, targeted therapies, such as focal laser ablation (FLA), focal cryotherapy, and high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) can be used to treat some cancerous lesions. Also, advances in proton therapy have allowed the pencil beam to be used to treat certain recurrences.

The new imaging technologies are not only extremely useful in identifying recurrent cancer “hotspots” for targeted treatment, they are also very helpful in identifying lesions within the prostate to help target biopsies when diagnosing primary prostate cancer, which will ultimately lead to the elimination of the old-fashioned “blind” biopsy.

All this has happened within the past few years. One can only imagine what breakthrough diagnostic tests, therapies, and drugs will come along in the next few years. Once again, this reinforces the concept of selecting a treatment that maintains quality of life, knowing that new developments and new technologies are coming along that will significantly improve doctors’ ability to pinpoint and treat recurrent cancer.

In this month’s BOB Tales, we will provide an overview of some of the new prostate cancer tests available and documented in Health & Wellness and The Wall Street Journal. Over the next few months, our guest writer, BOB member, Dr. Pat Greany, Deb, and I will be summarizing some of the more promising of these new technologies, many of which are already in practice at some of the leading medical centers in the U.S.

Learning about these tests is critically important, especially to our friends and family members, many of whom may be subjecting themselves to older technologies that don’t provide the benefits of these latest developments. Stay tuned.

I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter. As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions for future newsletters. Just send an email to DHickey@protonbob.com.