For Miami Valley Today
TROY — Talking about prostate cancer may be an uncomfortable topic, but Jerry Stark isn’t shy about urging other men to have a PSA test.
The blood test — part of Stark’s routine medical checkups because of his age — alerted him last spring to what was later identified as an aggressive form of prostate cancer.
Last summer, he underwent a robotic prostatectomy at Upper Valley Medical Center, performed by Robert Kohut, M.D., a urologist.
Today, Stark, 70, said he’s glad he was diligent about the PSA tests, is cautiously optimistic about the future and urges friends and former coworkers to make sure they are tested.
Stark and his wife, Diana, moved to Tipp City three years ago from the West Coast following his Air Force retirement and to be close to grandchildren. A questionable PSA test led Stark’s family physician, Aaron Harju, M.D., to refer him to Dr. Kohut.
“My PSA was fine and then, all of a sudden, it jumped, almost doubled in six months,” Stark said.
Dr. Kohut recommended a biopsy, which showed a Gleason score that indicated an aggressive form of prostate cancer. The Gleason score is a more detailed indicator than a PSA test result and is used with other information to determine a course of action.
“He recommended that I go ahead and do the prostate removal, a radical prostatectomy, and he was going to use robotic surgery,” Stark recalled.
Stark could have undergone an open radical prostatectomy without use of a robot or radiation therapy with anti-testosterone hormone therapy, Dr. Kohut said. The robotic approach recommended for Stark “is minimally invasive, has a short inpatient stay, and has less blood loss,” he said.
The surgery was performed with good results.
In the days and weeks that followed, Stark was sore but said he didn’t need any medication for pain. The most difficult part of recovery was a catheter for 10 days followed by incontinence for several weeks and undergoing physical therapy with Kegel exercises to strengthen muscles affected by the removal surgery.
“Without my wife helping, it would have been a lot tougher those first few weeks after surgery. You have to move around with a catheter and a bag. I wasn’t in pain, but I was tired, and I was sore,” Stark said.
His PSA test scores have been coming back as undetectable as Stark returns to his daily routine, including some computer consulting work. He hopes this summer to again pursue a favorite hobby of joining friends in Wyoming for dinosaur bone digs.
He also continues to urge men he knows to have regular PSA tests. “He tells everybody he knows,” Diana Stark said. “They need to know and be diligent,” he said.
Dr. Kohut said PSA screening can aid in the early detection of prostate cancer and prevent metastasis and mortality.
“Healthy males between the ages of 45 and75 should have a baseline PSA. African-Americans, those with first degree relatives with prostate cancer, relatives with BRCA 1 or 2 mutation, should have PSA screening start earlier at age 40,” he said.
For more information on the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of prostate cancer at Upper Valley Medical Center and Premier Health, visit www.premierhealth.com/prostate-cancer-resources