Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in African-American men. According to the American Cancer Society, about one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
John (JT) Newton was the one in seven. The 59-year-old Illinois resident was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s. Mr. Newton underwent brachytherapy, a type of internal radiation therapy where radioactive seeds are inserted into the prostate gland, to treat his prostate cancer. After his treatment process was complete, Newton’s prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test came back normal and his PSA levels continued to look well. Newton considered his cancer cured and went on with his life.
Newton’s PSA levels continued to look good until 2013, when he learned that his prostate cancer had come back. When facing prostate cancer treatment a second time, Newton wanted to know all available treatment options and began his research.
“From all my research of dealing with brachytherapy, I knew that there were alternative methods to surgery,” Newton said. “I knew that surgery could be debilitating and there was a chance that it could ruin my normal sex life, and I really did not want that. I also knew that there had been continuing developments in this area of treatment and if there was a new alternative to surgery, I was going to find it.”
While researching prostate cancer treatment options, Newton came across some information about the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System. CyberKnife is a painless, non-invasive prostate cancer treatment technology in which high-dose radiation is delivered to the tumor from a linear accelerator mounted on a highly maneuverable robotic arm. Hundreds of different angles enable the radiation to be contoured to the shape of the prostate, resulting in treatment aimed directly to the prostate gland, avoiding nearby critical anatomy. This precision reduces treatment time to just five outpatient visits, compared to the average 45 visits conventional radiation therapy requires. Everything about the quick “find the tumor and zap it” treatment procedure interested him and he decided to learn more.
Newton made an appointment at Illinois CyberKnife and verified that CyberKnife was a good option for his retreatment of prostate cancer. The appointment reiterated everything he had learned in his research and he felt confident about his choice. Newton met with Dr. Arica Hirsch, Radiation Oncologist and Medical Director at Illinois CyberKnife, to review the details of his case and determine an optimal treatment plan.
Newton’s treatment plan included five CyberKnife treatment sessions that lasted about an hour each. Newton recalls the treatments being extremely easy and not at all what someone would expect when they are being treated for cancer.
“The treatments seemed almost too simple and too easy,” he said. “Who knew I could drive to a cancer treatment, lay on a table for an hour, and then drive home?”
After treatments, Newton said he felt great and had no problem stepping right back into his daily routine.
“The treatments were so trouble-free that it was kind of hard to grasp that I was being treated for cancer,” he said. “You hear the words “cancer treatment” and you automatically think of chemotherapy and losing your hair and being sick, but CyberKnife was nothing like that. It was not what I expected at all, but in the best way possible.”
Today, Mr. Newton says he feels fantastic and is enjoying life. He continues to receive good reports regarding his PSA levels and his prostate cancer has not returned.
“CyberKnife was the best decision I ever made,” said Newton. “I would recommend to anybody that has any type of cancer that CyberKnife can treat to seek out this methodology because you are going to have no difficulty getting back into your normal lifestyle. CyberKnife is the most patient friendly treatment available.”