Like many older men, O. discovered he had prostate cancer only after experiencing symptoms. The 69-year-old was suffering from stomach pains and underwent an ultrasound examination in hopes of discovering the problem. The ultrasound showed an unrelated finding of an enlarged prostate.
O. next visited a urologist who took a prostate biopsy. O. then received the bad news – he had prostate cancer, rated on the Gleason scale as a 7, relatively advanced. Of course, he immediately began consulting with specialists and doing his own research to determine the best course of treatment.Most of the doctors that O. visited recommended surgery. However, O. had another resource.
He relates, “A friend who had undergone radiation treatment about three years previous to the discovery of my cancer suggested that I consult with Prof. Zvi Symon, Director of the Radiation Oncology Department at Sheba Medical Center.
He was full of praise for Prof. Symon, both as a medical specialist and as a person. Indeed, the consultation I had with Prof. Symon was unique and very professional. Prof. Symon explained in great detail all the possible treatment options open to me – radiation, brachytherapy, and surgery – and detailed the possible side effects of each type of treatment. At the end of this first meeting, he offered me a chance to participate in a new and novel treatment through his department.
This treatment was the result of new scientific developments which enabled more precise targeting of radiation and would decrease the number of radiation treatments from 32 to only five.”
Greater accuracy in radiation delivery for cancer therapy is important as this minimizes damage to healthy tissues and allows more radiation to be focused on cancer cells.
O. was the first patient in Israel to receive this treatment, and it took place at Sheba’s Radiation Oncology Department.
O. describes the confidence that the team at Sheba inspired in him,
“Prof. Symon and his team created a very comfortable, almost cozy atmosphere, which made this physically and emotionally difficult time much more tolerable. When one suddenly finds oneself in a vulnerable situation, it’s of utmost importance to be able to trust the medical staff. I definitely found this with entire Radiation Oncology team, including the doctors, nurses, technicians, and support staff.”
After five radiation treatments in five weeks, O. reached the end of his treatments in January 2013. His prostate was reduced in size, and his symptoms improved dramatically, giving him a better quality of life. Almost five years later, he visits Sheba for surveillance only once a year.