Prostate Cancer survivor urges men to get tested

Dennis Forbes

As Prostate Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, resident cancer survivor, Dennis Forbes, wants to encourage men in Grand Bahama to consider their testing and treatment options regarding the disease.

Forbes sat down with this daily recently to talk about his experience with Prostate Cancer.
The 61-year-old New Providence native said that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016 after being tested.

“The following year I did my testing and my PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels kept going up, so it was recommended by Dr. Roberts that I have a surgery,” he recalled.

Forbes noted that he was not comfortable with going under the knife and having his prostate removed, so his doctor informed him of another option called the High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU).

“I opted to do this HIFU technique,” he remembered.

He added that after doing a biopsy where 12 tests were done, he took the results to a doctor in the United States where another round of tests were done. After which, he recurved the HIFU procedure.

HIFU is considered the future of Prostate Cancer care, today.

The HIFU procedure is a new technique approved by the FDA to remove prostate tissue. Though it hasn’t been approved for the treatment of Prostate Cancer in the U.S., it is being used in clinical trials to treat Prostate Cancer.

HIFU destroys prostate cancer through the delivery of precise and focused sound waves to a targeted spot of diseased prostate tissue. This technology uses ultrasound energy, not radiation, to destroy the targeted tissue.

The ultrasound energy or sound waves are transmitted through the rectal wall and focused at desired locations within the prostate identified by MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and confirmed by ultrasound. This targeted and minimally invasive approach to treating prostate cancer leaves the healthy tissue untouched and unharmed and minimizes the chance of side effects.

The basic concept of how HIFU targets, burns and destroys specific prostate tissue is similar to how a magnifying glass can use the sun’s rays of light to burn a precise hole in a leaf at the point of intersection.

Similar principles apply to HIFU. Instead of using light as the source of energy, HIFU uses sound and instead of a magnifying glass, HIFU uses a transducer. The sound waves that are aimed at the prostate tissue, rapidly increase tissue temperature, destroying only the cancerous lesions and protecting the healthy surrounding tissue.

Forbes noted that although the procedure was expensive, it is comparable to any other treatment.
Since then, Forbes revealed that he has been cancer free for a year and half, but he still gets screened at least once a year.

He stated that many Bahamian men are not aware that they have cancer and so getting tested is very important.

He attributed his early detection to the Us Too organization’s Annual Prostate Cancer Screening initiative.

“Since Us Too started their screening process, I’ve been doing it and it helped me a lot, because I didn’t even know that I had cancer,” he said.

Us Too hosted a two-day screening at the Pearce Plaza Clinic on Coral Road on Friday, September 7 from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. and Saturday, September 8 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. open to the public.

The screening includes a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test and a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). In 2017 they began testing for the BRCA gene mutation.

Forbes advised all men, especially those age 40 and above to get tested, stating that even if they miss the Us Too screening sessions, the organization can still help them get testing done.

“Go and get tested … I tell my friends to go and get yourself tested, find out what’s going on with you and stop taking these little things for granted. We’re not getting any younger,” said Forbes.

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