Dr. Gud E. Nuff initiated our appointment by reviewing my chart and asking me how I had been doing in general. I told him I felt great and had been experiencing no ill side effects. He conducted a DRE, palpated the lymph glands of my neck and groin, then concluded these proceedings with the following assessment, "you have less than 1% chance of dying from prostate cancer." "Do you have questions?" he inquired. The following discussion ensued:
Comment and Question:
"I had been scheduled for a colonoscopy three months ago. I consulted with my case manager at UFPTI who advised me to wait at least one year. When ready she would mail my proctologist advisory materials on how to conduct his examination." I asked Dr. Gud E. Nuff to address these issues.
"Proton radiation irritates and reddens the bowel especially in the vicinity of the prostate. Proctologists are trained to biopsy in these circumstances. Such a procedure may cause an ulceration that is resistant to healing. Additional intervention may then be required. A year of healing following treatment is simply a precautionary measure."
Comment and Question
For perspective on the next few questions the reader should know I avoid "unnecessary" exposure to radiation and have done so most of my adult life. For example my dentist routinely provides his patients with an annual full mouth x-ray. In deference to my concerns in this regard my dentist reluctantly limited this prodedure to once every ten years for me.
Following my diagnosis of prostate cancer I readily agreed to any and all forms of radiation. This included a multitude of preliminary assessments including an MRI (or two) a Cat-scan and various other diagnostic procedures involving radiation. The treatment procedure per se consisted of 39 occasions of concentrated proton beam radiation assisted by innumerable
x-ray scans to ensure the proper placement of my prostate.
"What are the long term effects of all this radiation on my various body parts including my bladder, colon, rectum, bones and other tissues in the path of the radiation beams.
"Same question as above concerning the effect of radiation on my longevity."
"Am I at greater risk for other cancers as a result of my history of prostate cancer and radiation treatment."
In concluding our appointment Dr. Gud E. Nuff pointed out that 30% of post-treatment graduates experience rectal bleeding at about the 18 month interval. I knew about this phenomenon from reading Marckini; on page 130, Marckini comments as follows:
"As. . .healthy tissue repairs itself, there is a phenomenon called radiation induced neovascularization. New blood vessels form in the rectal wall, and periodically some blood vessels near the surface leak blood, or a scab will slough off. This condition is not uncommon, it is self-limiting, and it almost always goes away after a few months."
I certainly hope I am among the 70% who do not experience this worrisome symptom, but all in all, I do not know how the results of my belated six month checkup could have gone much better.