Tuesday, November 22, 2011

4) Decision for the Prostate Biopsy and Food Allergy Relief

Back in Seattle, and I felt pretty good. It appeared there no need for a Prostate Biopsy. Most of the urinary symptoms had subsided since taking the Cipro. I still had a nagging concern with the doctor’s statement that I may have non-aggressive Prostate Cancer, but at least I knew nothing was going to happen tomorrow. Then there was that ‘spot’ on my Prostate. I resolved to gather more information.

About this time my wife and I decided to attend the Ballard Seafest Event: food, fun, music, crafts, and all manner of new things to explore. Have you ever read “The Celestine Prophecy? I bring that up because one of the ‘Insights’ talks about how everyone we meet has some important message to impart to us. Not just serendipity, there is a reason for the meeting, and a message to be shared that will bring about some form of mutual benefit. Life can be really fun and interesting when one is open to this philosophy. Who knew at the time the Ballard Seafest would open a door to alternative healing. During the Ballard Seafest, as if guided, we found ourselves in front of a Bastyr University booth. Wonders of wonders, those in the booth were passing out coupons for a Free Naturopathic Clinic Visit. They explained further that because of our age, we already qualified for their $15 normal visit charge at the teaching side of their clinic. Yahoo! We were thrilled not only because this opened another option for exploring the potential Prostate Cancer, but because each of us had chronic concerns that needed to be addressed.

My first visit to Bastyr’s Natural Health Clinic shortly thereafter was a rewarding experience. The students, nearly ND’s in their own right and guided by Dr. Jones, were helpful and professional. There approached my issues as a team and were supervised by a Licensed Naturopathic Physician. Let me step aside from the Prostate Cancer for a moment to share an immediate success story from my first visit.

For over ten years, I had been plagued by a debilitating feeling of a burning sensation in my skin. This was much like the sensation one experiences coming inside from the snowy cold and warming up too fast. The skin as it warms starts to tingle, then builds into a crescendo of fiery pricking pain. This appeared various places throughout my body seemingly at random. It was affecting my concentration, my sleep, and at times all I could do was lay down hoping it would pass. Over the years I had seen all manner of ‘medical’ doctors without success. They prescribed everything from B12 shots to serious addictive drugs that would only mask the pain not resolve the problem. I had blood tests, leaky gut test, even a CAT scan to find a solution. Nothing worked. My most recent physician for this condition was a Neurologist at Group Health who told me I was healthy, there was nothing he or I could do, learn to live with it, and then charged me an outrageous fee for his less than helpful opinion.

During my appointment at Bastyr, after really listening to my medical history, they suggested I have a Food Antibody Standard Food Panel IgG/IgE Assessment from US BioTek Laboratories. We did the blood draw at Bastyr and shortly thereafter I received results. Much to my surprise I was Highly Allergic to all forms of Dairy including Eggs. I also had serious allergies to Beef, Sugar Cane, Bananas, Cranberries, Pineapple, Almonds, Hazelnuts, Asparagus, and Onions. At the time, cheese was a major part of my diet. With this information I immediately removed Dairy, and any other allergic foods I was still eating. Shortly thereafter the symptoms that had plagued me for over a decade disappeared! You can’t believe how this felt. It’s like winning the lottery and well worth every minute spent at Bastyr and the reasonable cost of the testing from US BioTek Laboratories. Later I found out that Dairy, along with certain other foods, could well be a prime trigger for Prostate Cancer. (More on this to follow)

Of course the main reason I came to Bastyr was to see what form of Naturopathic Treatment for Prostate Cancer was available. You should have seen the looks on their faces when I first mentioned possible Prostate Cancer. From their expressions you would think I had used a four-letter word. Before I said anything else they immediately informed me that they could not treat any Cancer condition unless I was first under the active care of a licensed medical physician. Seems it’s the Law. Now I know at some obscure level this may be for our society’s general good, but it’s my body, and let’s face it except for broken bones and urgent surgeries in the past, the standard medical care in this Country leaves much to be desired. Shows you how truly screwed up we are when it comes to real health, government over-regulation, lack of personal responsibility, and frivolous lawsuits. What we are missing is a holistic approach to medicine, opening up all possible alternatives for healing. Medical doctors all too often have tunnel vision and can’t begin to think outside the box. But I digress. We decided on a plan to improve my overall immune functioning and they strongly recommended I see a medical physician for the potential Prostate Cancer. My immediate fear was that a medical physician would probably want me to do just one thing… a Prostate Biopsy.

Next installment: Decision for the Prostate Biopsy Step Two


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

3) Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and a New Surprise

It was an early flight, too early, from Seattle to Phoenix, but I was determined to make this a one-day trip to refine my Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and potential Prostate Cancer Treatment. Fortunately the car rental site in Phoenix is one of the best I have seen and I got in and out quickly. I arrived at the Longevity Medical Health Center (http://4wecare.com) on time for my appointment with Dr. Frank Tamburri, N.M.D. and the Power Color Doppler Ultrasound. I found Dr. Tamburri to be direct, knowledgeable, and thorough.

We started by going over all past history, tests and symptoms. He explained the process and began with a Digital Rectal Exam. You think I would get use to this by now, but no such luck. His DRE was more aggressive and painful on my Prostate than the previous exams, he found a small lump at the base of my Prostate very near the midline, and said it could have been easily missed by others. He ordered a urine test for infection and took a sample for another PSA-3 test. He explained different labs might vary in how they evaluate the PSA-3. He preferred to use Bostwick Laboratories for the PSA-3 and felt their evaluations more accurate than most. The PSA-3 test result came back in a few days at 49.4, higher than previously tested. Not good, though Dr. Tamburri explained the score rise could be from different procedures in different labs.

Dr. Tamburri also ordered a PSA Total and Free test that is additionally called a Free/total Ratio PSA or a Percent-Free PSA test. Upon release into the blood, PSA is enzymatically active, but protease inhibitors rapidly inactivate it. Most PSA is bound to various serum proteins. The bound PSA is called “Complexed” PSA. The unbound PSA is called “Free” PSA. The standard PSA test measures both components of PSA: free and protein bound. The PSA Total and Free blood test measures only the unbound (or damaged) type of PSA, called the Free PSA. In patients with Prostate Cancer, a higher proportion of PSA is bound. A low percentage of free PSA may warrant a Biopsy, while a higher percentage of free PSA would tend to be better for the patient. This test greatly helps to refine the standard PSA test results and provide for a clearer picture when it comes to deciding on a Prostate Biopsy. My score for the PSA Total and Free Test later came back at 31%, better and higher than the Cancer cutoff limit of 25% suggesting a lower possibility of Prostate Cancer.

At this point we proceeded with the Power Color DopplerUltrasound. It was done in his exam room and after applying sufficient amounts of lubricant to my anus a rather large probe was inserted up my rectum and focused on my Prostate. I had thought the DRE’s uncomfortable, but they paled to this procedure. During the Ultrasound I was able to view with Dr. Tamburri most all areas of my Prostate. He pointed out several small spots that looked like calcium deposits or cysts. Based on the Color Doppler Ultrasound, they had no significant blood flow to them, which was contraindicated of Prostate Cancer. Cancer tumors often grow rapidly, he said, and will show extensive blood flow near their sites on the Ultrasound. He also pointed out the small lump he felt during the DRE at the base of my Prostate near the midline. This as well did not have the localized blood flow to indicate Cancer, though he didn’t know for sure what was causing the spot. Overall my Prostate exhibited, as Dr. Tamburri pointed out to me, a greater blood flow than normal. This suggested to him that there could be an underlying infection throughout the Prostate. As Dr. Tamburri explained sometimes with Prostatitis, a swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland, there may be physical symptoms without the infection showing in the urine. Symptoms of Prostatitis can include painful urination, pain in the groin, pelvic area or genitals, and sometimes, flu-like symptoms. This certainly matched for several of my past symptoms.

After the exam we chatted about the results and options. Based on Prostate blood flow patterns, my Prostate over sensitivity, symptoms, and test history, Dr. Tamburri prescribed a treatment for Prostatitis that included taking Cipro for 30 days. He also said with the PSA and PSA-3 test results, and the spot on my Prostate, there was an indication that I may have a non-aggressive Prostate Cancer that should be closely monitored over the next year. He felt that metastic disease was not a high risk at this time. In addition to the Cipro he suggested I begin taking 4g to 5g per day of Ascorbate Vitamin C; 4 Caps per day of Metagenics EPA-DHA 720 essential fatty acids from cold-water fish, and 8 Caps every other day of Thorne Meriva-SR Curcumin Phytosome. (More on this to follow)

I stopped at a pharmacy on my way to the Phoenix airport and began taking the Cipro. Within a few days I was taking the other supplements. Taking this much Cipro over a month can be problematic. It has a risk of tendonitis and tendon rupture in all ages and the risk is further increased in patients over 60 years of age; in other words me. The first 3 weeks were without problem. Into the fourth week I began to experience pain near my joints in several places including arm and leg. As I continued to take the Cipro the pain began to increase so I did stop the Cipro slightly before the full course, and over time the pain subsided and went away. Later I found out that there are other medications that could have been supplemented for the Cipro.

The good news is that after the course of the Cipro, I went in to Group Health for a PSA test and the result came back with a score of 3.5. This was a significant change. I felt much relieved though cautiously concerned for what the future may hold.

Next installment: Decision for the Prostate Biopsy

Monday, November 14, 2011

2) Better Prostate Cancer Tests, and the Power Color Doppler Ultrasound

In all fairness, I should begin by thanking the physician at Group Health for even suggesting I have a PSA test. Because of her diligence I started on the path learning about a potentially life threatening Cancer developing in my body. Now I have the opportunity to take action, and make the necessary changes (More on this to follow) leading to improved health.

Knowing I had an elevated PSA score, and the knowledge these scores often lead to unwarranted, potentially dangerous Prostate Biopsies, I started searching for new diagnostic methods to better confirm, or remove the threat of Prostate Cancer. I came across an article about the Power Color Doppler Ultrasound test out of Phoenix, AZ and sometimes available in Seattle.

The Power Color Doppler Ultrasound is used to produce sonographic images of the prostate. It is essentially a more sophisticated version of traditional ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves to produce a detailed image of the body's internal structures. One primary advantage of Power Color Doppler Ultrasound in the detection of prostate cancer is that it has a much higher resolution and the ability to highlight (hence the term "color" in the name) areas of blood flow in dense or soft tissue. This allows specific problems, such as tumors or inflammation, to be viewed and measured clearly. This sounded a whole lot better than perforating my prostate with a bunch of oversized needles. The local contact for this test was Dr. Eric Yarnell, ND. I made an initial appointment.

During the office visit Dr. Yarnell reviewed my medical records, diet, symptoms, and lifestyle. He then suggested I take a PCA3 Profile test performed at his clinic. This is a gene-based test carried out on a urine sample. The PCA3 test is actually a dual assay in which both PCA3 and PSA mRNA are separately quantified and the ratio of the two, the PCA3 Score, is determined. The ratio is used because the denominator, PSA mRNA, establishes the amount of prostate-specific nuclear material in the specimen. A low level of PCA3 is expressed by normal prostate cells, and if absolute concentration of PCA3 were used, a high Score might be obtained from a specimen rich only in normal prostate cells. Thus, the PCA3 Score tells the expression of PCA3 corrected for the background of normal or BPH epithelial cells present in the specimen. In early clinical testing, it was soon determined that the higher the urinary PCA3 Score, the greater the likelihood of prostate cancer. Taking the test sample requires another Digital Rectal Exam where the physician massages the Prostate several times on both sides. Then you immediately pee into a cup for the urine sample. The sample is sent to a lab for the screening. This test has a safe reference range of 0 – 34, so the lower score the better. Unfortunately my score of 38.6 came back over the safe level.

My next visit with Dr. Yarnell was filled with questions. I was hoping for the best, and wondering what it all meant. His opinion based on my test results was that I may have a slow growing Prostate Cancer and that I could 'Watch and Wait', or take the next step and get a Power Color Doppler Ultrasound to better define the problem. He also felt that a Prostate Biopsy was a risk I might not want right now because of possible complications including infection dangers and increased opportunity to spread Cancer Cells. What I have come to understand is that Cancer in the Prostate isn’t the real killer. The problem comes from when the Prostate Cancer Cells grow so profuse and use the lymphatic, or blood systems, or contiguous growth to spread. Perforating the Prostate during a Biopsy may also release an abundance of Cancer Cells into the body and blood. The Cancer Cells then may lodge in other areas of the body, often bones or lymph nodes, and start to grow a new colony uncontrollably. This could result in Prostate Cancer Lymph Node, or Bone, Metastasis, a life-threatening situation often treated with chemotherapy or external radiation therapy.

With that said he suggested I immediately start taking a ModifiedCitrus Pectin called Pectasol-C that has been shown to inhibited cell proliferation and apoptosis in Prostate Cancer Cells. It does this by interfering with galectin binding, which disrupts communication between cancer cells and thus inhibits the formation and spread of Cancer. Why more medical physicians do not know about, or recommend Pectasol-C is beyond me. I have been continuously taking Pectasol-C since that conversation and plan to keep it up. The best pricing I’ve found is on Amazon.com using their ‘Subscribe and Save’ program.

As I am not the type of person to just sit back and wait for the hammer to drop, I decided to proceed with the Power Color Doppler Ultrasound test. Unfortunately the equipment would not be available is Seattle for several months. So I made the appointment, booked the flight, and in days found myself on a one-day round trip flight to Phoenix, Arizona.

Next installment: Power Color Doppler Ultrasound the Test, Results, a New Surprise and Treatment.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

1) Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

On the surface my Prostate Cancer Journey began in January 2011. This is when Group Health decided to become even more profitable and once again increased medical insurance rates. My high deductible plan was previously costing $3,324 per year for the privilege of paying the first in $2,700 deductible, and was going up to $4,200 per year. Don’t get me started about the cost versus rewards of health insurance. So I was stewing about the new price increase for the high deductible medical insurance when I noticed there were now a few services entitled to me without additional fees. One of these was described as a ‘free’ Well Adult Visit.

During the January Well Adult Visit, my female physician sheepishly suggested I have a Prostate Exam because I was experiencing some minor burning urination and tender testicles. Group Health had already ruled out general infection and a host of other issues, and it had been more than two years since my last prostate exam. She started with a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and said to her everything felt good. Of course for me nothing felt good during the DRE.

A Digital Rectal Exam is where the physician inserts their gloved finger into your rear end so they can feel the Prostate. They are checking for any hard, lumpy, or generally abnormal areas on or in the Prostate. Though this is an uncomfortable experience for so many reasons, it’s over quickly. Tenderness of the Prostate during the exam may also provide the physician a further clue as to Prostate health. Should the physician feel any lumps or bumps that don’t belong it means they will want to take a more in depth look at the Prostate for possible Cancer.

Though my Prostate felt fine to her, she suggested I have a PSA test just to be sure. It sounded like a good idea. I did have some unresolved medical complaints, and at 61 years the risk of Prostate Cancer rises very quickly. Prostate Cancer is the second leading Cancer killer of men. In fact most men over 80 years have Prostate Cancer in one form or another. The blood draw was done at Group Health that day with the PSA test result coming only a few days later. My test result score was 5.5, above the previous score of 3.6 from a test in 2009. Not Good! The ‘norm’ for a PSA test at Group Health is currently 0-4. Based on my test result, my physician recommended I see a Group Health urinary specialist for a consult. Much later I found out that many other conditions, such as an enlarged or inflamed prostate, or even making love within a week before the test, can greatly increase the PSA score; and there are many who believe the normal PSA score range should be lowered to 0-2.6. (More on this to follow)

This is the first point where I began to vary from standard medical procedures. Last time I saw a ‘specialist’ at Group Health I ended up paying over $500.00 for a ten-minute office visit with no result. There is just something wrong with that. To top it off the specialist said I was in great shape and they couldn’t do anything for me. Needless to say I didn’t want to see an overpriced underperforming specialist without first looking into the whole PSA issue. (More on this to follow) I had also heard horror stories about Prostate Cancer Biopsies. Complications including bleeding, infections, erectile dysfunction, and evendeath from this procedure appeared to be on the rise. The more I looked into the world of Prostate Cancer the more I heard about unnecessary Biopsies and conflicting information regarding PSA scores.

Apparently PSA tests are rife with inaccurate results when it comes to predicting Cancer. Over 50% of men who had a high PSA reading turned out not to have Prostate Cancer and correspondingly over 50% of men who were diagnosed with Prostate Cancer had a low PSA reading. Of course that still left those the PSA test predicted accurately. So like a good problem solver seeking solutions, I started searching for answers and alternatives. Then too there is the ‘Velocity’ of PSA scores to consider. (More on this to follow) My next step was a visit to a Dr. Eric Yarnell, ND, who offers a naturopathic practice in the Pacific Northwest, and is currently a staff physician at the Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center working with urinary issues, prostate, bladder, and kidney cancers.

Next installment: Better Prostate Cancer Tests, and the Power Color Doppler Ultrasound