Way back on this blog, I talked about PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) numbers in the hopes of chasing men to their doctors to find out their number, facilitated by my husband's diagnosis of prostate cancer. If you are a man over 40 reading this, PUHLEEZE get your PSA level tested at least once a year. It could save your life.
Normal PSA readings are from zero to 4.0. Normal for a man in his 20s and 30s would be in the 1 to 2 range, while normal for a man approaching 60 would be more in the 4.0 range, high end of the scale. Your numbers increase as you get older due to the normal swelling of the prostate with age. Now keeping that in mind. . .
Ray's first PSA back in December was 8.5, over double the high normal rate.
On his first biopsy, they definitely found cancer. We both saw it, on the ultrasound pictures as well as on the biopsy map. There was also a palpable nodule felt upon physical examination. The doctor decided to do what they call a saturation biopsy, mapping the entire prostate to make sure there were no other cancer spots. This would determine if a partial treatment would be appropriate or he would have to have the entire prostate removed. According to the biopsies, the cancer was contained in that one location. Ray elected to do a cryotherapy procedure (freezing the cancerous part of the prostate to destroy it) and scheduled it not once but twice. Things just kept interfering and both procedures ended up getting canceled. We were getting ready to reschedule, so let me now get you into the "weird" part.
The second biopsy actually came back perfectly normal. Twice as many samples were taken, some from the exact spot where the cancer was located on the first biopsy. It wasn't there. Could have been a fluke. The reading of prostate biopsies is somewhat subjective and is usually confirmed by more than one pathologist. That's how they get the Gleason score. Ray's Gleason score was six, the lowest of the "bad" numbers, for lack of a better term. There was a very outside chance that the first biopsy took all the cancerous tissue with it. Not likely, but, hey, to quote the lawyers, anything's possible, right?
This second biopsy result had been bugging us for a bit. Did we dare hope? So before rescheduling, Ray asked for another PSA test as it had been a couple of months since the last one, which, along with the first biopsy results, definitely indicated cancer. Wanna know what that test came back with?
FOUR POINT ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or 4.1!!!!! Either way, lots of exclamation points. That's so close to normal for his age, it's scary. Maybe that's why all the delays and changes happened? Maybe he's not supposed to have anything drastic done? I don't know. Dr. Lee's nurse knows what's going on with our daughter (see previous posts) and she said with a reading of 4.1, there is certainly no rush to a procedure table now. When things calm down here (HAH!), the doc wants to see him and talk about this latest result. He may still elect to have something done. One of the least desirable options for a younger man is called "watchful waiting." It means simply being monitored by exams and PSA blood tests at 3-month intervals. His numbers and test results didn't indicate that at first. But now?
We are still in a little bit of shock. Is this a miraculous healing? We both saw the cancer on the ultrasound images and the first biopsy map. It was very noticeable. It is nowhere to be seen on the second set. Did the first biopsy get it all? There is a still a chance that it's in there, hiding somewhere, and it was simply missed. I mean, hey, they can't stick a needle in every single nanomillimeter of skin. For right now, though, Ray is in no danger.
KEEP THOSE PRAYERS COMIN', FOLKS!!!!!!!!!!!! When I post the victory, you will hear the screams wherever you are in the world. :)