Skip to main content
Home » Managing Illnesses » There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be Treated for Prostate Cancer
Celebrating Movember

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be Treated for Prostate Cancer

Two smiling men sitting on an outdoor bench
Two smiling men sitting on an outdoor bench

In 2011, Steve Turner of London, ON was a grandfather of two, a bladder cancer survivor, and still loving his job at the London Health Sciences Centre. He was in good health and high spirits when a routine doctor’s appointment showed some worrisome movement in the results of his PSA test, one of the primary metrics used to detect prostate cancer.

The PSA increase was slight, but Steve’s doctor had the experience and intuition to order further tests and, sure enough, Steve found himself in a second battle with cancer. “I had no family history of prostate cancer, so the diagnosis was a bit surprising and disappointing,” he recalls. “But, at the same time, I knew that there has never been a better time in history to be treated for prostate cancer. So I was able to maintain a cautious optimism.”

Established treatments meet modern methods

While the three pillars of prostate cancer care — surgery, hormone therapy, and radiation — have been around for over half a century, improvements have been made in the last decade and are continuing today. “There’s no question that ongoing research has contributed to a better understanding of the biology of prostate cancer and helped us develop powerful new tools such as precision surgery, precision radiotherapy, and targeted drug therapies,” says Dr. Glenn Bauman, a radiation oncologist with the London Regional Cancer Program. “We’ve gained a lot of knowledge across the spectrum and seen great improvements in survival.”

When, following surgery, biopsies revealed that Steve’s cancer had begun to spread beyond the prostate, he was given a chance to contribute to this research. Under Dr. Bauman’s care, Steve joined the RADICALS trial studying the benefits of varying schedules of hormone or radiation therapy in combination with surgery. 

Men and their families can feel hopeful in the face of an early diagnosis — survival is now close to 100%.

Dr. Stuart Edmonds, Prostate Cancer Canada

Healthy, happy, and cancer-free

During the trial, Steve underwent 33 radiation sessions, which he breezily describes as “quite painless.” Today he is cancer-free, enjoying retirement, and has welcomed two additional grandchildren. “I’ve found that the lasting effects from the cancer and treatment have very little impact on my quality of life,” he says. “They are a minor irritation when I notice them at all, and they don’t interfere with my activities. I still run about eight kilometres three times a week, for example, despite getting a bit long in the tooth. I feel grateful that I’ve been able to maintain that kind of lifestyle.”

It’s continuing research like the RADICALS trial, which reported its first results earlier this month, that will help to shape new standards of care. Doctors have an ever-growing number of tools for managing prostate cancer, and research is helping them make the best use of that toolbox so that more men can live stories like Steve’s. 

“Men and their families can feel hopeful in the face of an early diagnosis — survival is now close to 100%,” says Dr. Stuart Edmonds, Vice President of Research, Health Promotion, and Survivorship at Prostate Cancer Canada. “But the sobering fact to keep in mind is that three in four men will die if the disease is caught late, which is one of the key reasons we need to keep making progress.”

Although there’s lots of work still to be done, Dr. Bauman remains optimistic. “Increasingly, we’re thinking of even advanced prostate cancer as a chronic disease more often than a lethal one,” he says. “That’s a big shift. I think that, across the spectrum, there’s a lot of reason to be hopeful.”

For more, visit Prostate Cancer Canada or follow @ProstateCancerC on Twittter.

Next article