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Published on May 17, 2012

Vaughn Clarke & Prostate Cancer


Vaughn Clarke
Patient: Vaughn Clarke, Rockville, MD

Location: Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center

Service: Prostate Cancer

Doctors: Barry Aron, MD; Donald Bridges, MD

For the past 18 years, Vaughn Clarke of Rockville diligently got his annual physical and prostate screening every spring. Clarke, a health-conscious former athlete, began getting annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings at age 40, after he lost his father to prostate cancer. For almost two decades, his tests came back normal.

Then, in 2010, a required physical before wrist surgery left him stunned.

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My father was a doctor, an obstetrician-gynecologist, and he found out that he had prostate cancer at age seventy, so he went on this experimental hormone treatment, and it kept the cancer at bay for seven years. He died in 1996. Knowing that, I started getting my PSA testing at age 40. I had wrist surgery in December 2010 and I'd had a physical six months prior to that. I had my right wrist partially fused from years of playing basketball from playing tennis. I had to get a pre-op done, and I decided to make it a physical, and I find out that my PSA had jumped from a urologist doctor parent.

So the first question was should we do a biopsy, and that depended on what would we do if we found the cancer, and he's a healthy guy, is an active guy, has good life expectancy, and so we said if you have prostate cancer there's a lot that we can do and you should be treated so we went ahead and we did the biopsies.

When you hear the word cancer for the first time your ears go deaf. It really is something when you start thinking in terms of your own limited mortality. It's one thing to know someone close to you that has died as a friend it's another thing to have a relative die. It's a whole nother dimension when you yourself now have to face - this is something kill me. My first reaction was let's get the sickness out of me just cut it out let's just do surgery right away, and Dr. Aron's comment was well you can do that, but I think you out to have good information.

Good medical treatment is all about choices, about being informed, about knowing what options are available, what the side effects are, what the benefits are, and the only way to intelligently do that is to have the people that specialize in those modalities inform the patient.

I came to the conclusion that rather than doing surgery that I would do what was called a triple threat, which is basically a combination of hormones, radiation and then the implantation of radioactive seeds. The result all that was in November I had my PSA taken again and it had dropped from the upper 4 level down to 0.1. Now that doesn't mean that I'm cancer free. I'm on my way, but I still have to be monitored for a period of time three months at a time.

Shady Grove was definitely in my corner, and I'm very appreciative of all the care - exceptional care - that they gave me.

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