Two-thirds of men with prostate cancer will be diagnosed at age 65
Not long after his 65th birthday, Bay Area resident Gilbert Khalil
found out he had prostate
cancer (read more and see a video about Khalil here).
Like the one in six American men who develop this cancer over a
lifetime, he faced a series of difficult decisions: Should he have
surgery or radiation, or both? Or should he do nothing? Khalil and his
wife, Stacee, wanted to know all the pros and cons for each option.
The stakes were high, the answers clearly of life-or-death importance.
The couple met with Gonzalgo at Stanford to discuss the common
questions men with this diagnosis often ask. Gonzalgo laid out various
possible treatments for Khalil, who chose surgery after a couple of
months of "painstaking discussion," Khalil said. "The
key for me was catching the cancer early and doing something about it
early. Some people younger than me may decide to not do anything."
Given the risks that come with any surgery and with radiation, many
men will choose what the medical community calls watchful waiting.
More than 2.5 million men, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, are alive today after a diagnosis of prostate
cancer. Prostate cancer, like other forms of cancer, can grow at
various rates. Some men can live for many years with untreated
For others, treatment is unavoidable – and the disease may resist
all the traditional approaches. Last year, Stanford became one of a
limited number of health care sites in the United States to offer the
prostate cancer treatment called Provenge, the first FDA-approved
therapeutic cancer vaccine. Built on research by Stanford
physician-scientists Ed Engleman, MD, Ronald Levy,
MD, and Samuel Strober,
MD, Provenge consists of a patient's own immune system cells that
have been power-boosted and sensitized to eradicate a certain prostate
cancer protein. The technique teaches a patient's immune system to
recognize cancer as an enemy, something once thought impossible. Such
a treatment avoids the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy and
the risks of surgery.
Khalil recovered quickly from his surgery. "I've gained
everything back," he said. "I was really blown away by how
fast I was able to recover. It's a very difficult decision to make and
nobody guarantees a 100 percent recovery, but I was very confident in
everything I found here at Stanford."
For more information about prostate cancer surgery at Stanford
Hospital & Clinics, call 650-725-5544.