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Winning the Battle Together - Bill: Patient Stories

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health offers screening and high-tech care to help beat prostate cancer

Could you have cancer and not know it?

It̠s common for prostate cancer to progress without any symptoms. This makes the disease more likely to advance before you know something is wrong. Fortunately, the PSA blood test is a screening tool that can lead to early detection and treatment.

Christopher S. Arroyo, MD, a urologist and surgeon at Franciscan Urology Associates in Gig Harbor, recommends prostate screenings for men who are at risk for the disease. This includes those over the age of 50, men who have a family history of the disease or who are of African American ancestry who have at least a ten-year life expectancy.


Weighing the options

Port Orchard resident Bill Szpor learned that his PSA levels were high as a result of a prostate screening by his general practitioner. He was referred to Dr. Arroyo.

“Dr. Arroyo spent time with my wife and I, and he talked to us about everything,” Bill said. “He told us to take a few days and then come back and tell him what we wanted to do. My wife and I sat down and weighed the options. I had an enlarged prostate and a little bit of cancer in the prostate. We believed the best way to deal with it was to eliminate the problem. We weighed the downsides against the positives and decided to just take it out.” Dr. Arroyo performed the procedure — a robotic prostatectomy.

Informed decisions

Prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment is a very controversial topic, said Dr. Arroyo. ‘The reason for this is that many prostate cancers are small volume, slow growing cancers, and they tend to occur in older men — so for some men, the cancer may not be life-threatening. One of the first things I do with patients is to put their cancer in context of their health condition, their age, and their level of comfort with ‘sitting on’ the cancer if it isn’t life-threatening.”

When individuals are candidates for curative treatment, meaning they have an early cancer that has not spread outside of the prostate, but that has potential to become life-threatening, the discussion advances to exploring treatment options, recovery and the potential complications, he said.

Compassionate care

There is a lot of information to process and decisions to be made after a cancer diagnosis. The experts at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health are here to answer any questions you may have, and to make sure you are informed about all of your treatment options. Our team works together to make sure you receive high-quality, compassionate care.

Cancer care is provided by Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and a network of expert partners including: Peninsula Radiation Oncology, Northwest Medical Specialties, TRA Medical Imaging, and the Puget Sound Institute of Pathology.

Learn about prostate cancer