Treating Prostate Cancer with CyberKnife Technology: William’s Story

Frequent urination is one of the most common signs of prostate cancer.  It is also often one of the earliest symptoms a man with the disease may experience.  The urgent and frequent need to urinate, especially during the night, can affect a man’s quality of life and send him to his doctor, seeking help.

This was the case with William Doherty, a 67-year-old Batavia, Illinois, truck driver who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019.

“I found myself urinating quietly frequently,” William said.  “I was driving a semi and it was getting a little time-sensitive getting from point A to point B.”

William made an appointment with his urologist to have his bladder checked.  His urologist performed a cystoscopy, an endoscopy of his bladder, and determined that his bladder was fine.  His urologist ordered bloodwork and it was during this additional testing that they discovered that William’s PSA level was a 7, which is in the borderline range for prostate cancer.  His urologist recommended that William get a prostate biopsy and he agreed.  The images from the biopsy confirmed that William was positive for prostate cancer.

“There was not too much to worry about in the beginning,” William said.  “The images showed the cancer was only in the prostate and had not spread, so it was early-stage.  I monitored it and went back every three months for blood draws.  Then COVID happened.”

Throughout 2020, William said he continued to keep an eye on his prostate cancer, but he did know that his prostate was enlarged and he noticed that his urination increased to the point where he was waking up more than three times during the night to go to the bathroom.

In the spring of 2021, William went back to his urologist and got another PSA screening.  His PSA level had drastically jumped from a 7 to a 34.  William underwent another biopsy and just like his PSA level, his Gleason Score had increased as well.  William and his urologist were very concerned and started discussing options to remove the cancer.

William checked out his treatment options, including getting a second opinion, and researched everything from hormone therapy to a radical prostatectomy.  After much consideration, William was leaning towards robotic surgery.  Then he heard about CyberKnife.

“There were a lot of different prostate cancer treatments and I wanted to learn as much as I could about them,” William said.  “While weighing my options, my youngest sister told me she had a friend that was diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years back and he had CyberKnife treatment and was really happy with the results, so I decided to check it out.”

One of the main reasons William was interested in robotic surgery is because it was less invasive.  Because of his age, he wanted something that was going to be easy to recover from.

“My age was a big factor,” William said.  “It took me longer to heal than it did back when I was 40.  I knew I didn’t want to go the surgery route because I did not want to have to go through a long recovery time.  I wanted to go more high-tech.  I wanted to know what new and cutting-edge treatment options were out there for someone of my age.”

William went to another urologist to get a second opinion on treatment options and he was referred to radiation oncologist Arica Hirsch, M.D. at Illinois CyberKnife.

William said his consultation with Dr. Hirsch went extremely well.  She explained the CyberKnife treatment process step by step and the fact that it was noninvasive with a short treatment time made it an attractive treatment option for William.  He decided he wanted to go with CyberKnife for the treatment of his prostate cancer and he was thrilled to hear that Dr. Hirsch said he was a good candidate for CyberKnife.

Not only was William impressed with Dr. Hirsch, but he was also pleased with the entire treatment team at Illinois CyberKnife.

“My main nurse, Linda G., had a wonderful bedside manner and answered all of the questions I had,” said William.  “Plus, we had a portal that we communicated back and forth through the computer so she would message me and tell me what to expect and what to do to prepare for a visit.  It made everything go smoothly and put me at ease.”

William underwent CyberKnife for his prostate cancer in September 2021.  His treatment plan included five CyberKnife treatments with each session lasting about 45 minutes.

“I had five treatments every other day,” recalled William.  “I had three one week, then took the weekend off, and came back the next week and had two more.”

When asked about his treatment sessions, he said, “They were painless and pretty easy.”  According to William, “The hardest part was remaining still the whole time, but the staff did a good job at helping me relax.  They played music and I dozed off.  Before I knew it, the whole thing was over.”

After his treatments, William said he felt fine and that the treatments did not interfere with his life or his normal daily routine.  He commented that he drove himself to and from his treatment appointments because he felt good enough to do so.

Today William feels great.  He recently had his three-month follow-up appointment to check his PSA level and he was happy to hear that it had dropped to a 13.6 and that they expect it to keep declining.

When asked if he would recommend Illinois CyberKnife to others facing a prostate cancer diagnosis, William replied, “Definitely.  You won’t hear one negative thing out of me about my CyberKnife experience.  Arica is blessed to have a fantastic team.  They really are all rock stars.”  He went on to add, “Research and explore your treatment options and if you are a good candidate for CyberKnife, I highly recommend it.”