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Winning the Battle Together - John: 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?

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

Prostate screening typically begins at age 50 unless certain risk factors are present. If there is a family history of prostate cancer, or if you are of African-American descent, you should talk with your doctor about screening options earlier, around the age of 45. Robert McCroskey, MD, medical oncologist with Northwest Medical Specialties and practicing with the CHI Franciscan care team, cautions that men need to discuss PSA screening carefully with their physician prior to having the test. Although PSA screening can be lifesaving, a positive result can also lead to biopsies and surgery in people with benign prostate conditions or a cancer that will not progress over a patients lifetime.


A not-so-routine physical

Graham resident John Naegele knows the importance of the PSA blood test. It helped save his life. In 2001, John was diagnosed with prostate cancer after a PSA blood test performed as part of a routine physical. After detecting elevated PSA levels, John’s primary care provider referred him to an oncologist who recommended surgery. A second opinion led him to Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

New challenges, new treatments

At the time of diagnosis, John’s cancer was located within his prostate. It was decided that removing the gland was the best approach. “Everything was fine for about three years, but then it came back,” he said. “We started medications for prostate cancer and that worked for another couple of years.”

John is a prostate cancer survivor thanks to his never-give-up spirit and the team of doctors and nurses at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health who have stood by his side in this fight against a disease that has spread beyond his prostate and into his bones.

John has been through surgery, medications, radiation, infusions and more. He is grateful for his team of doctors and nurses who look out for him. They have been vigilant in identifying when the cancer has returned and acting quickly with treatment. “At Virginia Mason Franciscan Health we have access to the newest treatments and many clinical trials,” said Dr. McCroskey, who has treated John in recent years. “We are able to work with our patients to help them process an abundance of information while taking time to ensure they understand all of their options.”

John agreed. “In all cases I’ve felt very confident and trusted that Virginia Mason Franciscan Health was giving me the best information. And there have been a number of times when Dr. McCroskey has called on his own time to see how I’m doing. I’m in wonderful hands. They’ve maintained good contact and have taken care of me.”

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

Learn about prostate cancer