LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – It's often thought of as your grandfather's cancer, but that's no longer the case.
Prostate cancer is aggressively targeting our younger generations of men at an alarming rate and when there aren't signs in the early stages, it's up to you to get ahead of it.
More than 26,000 men will die from prostate cancer this year. That was not an option for John DeCamillis.
"As I tell people Brooke, it wasn't a matter of if I was going to be diagnosed. I'd planned on eventually dealing with it. It was more a matter of when," DeCamillis said.
His family history sealed his fate. A grandfather diagnosed with prostate cancer in his 70's. His father in his 60's. His uncles, too. The well-known Louisville attorney started screening for it when he was just 45, an age most physicians would agree is a good place to start.
"Until I actually went in for the MRI screening and was discussing with the technician why I was there, and having to say the words, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, it hadn't hit me yet," DeCamillis said.
In fact, the number of younger men diagnosed with aggressive, life-threatening prostate cancer has increased nearly 6-fold in the last 20 years.
Dr. John Jurige, with First Urology in Louisville, is no stranger to men in the DeCamillis family, having treated many of them for cancer. After much research, DeCamillis has chosen a treatment different from the more common surgical removal of the prostate, radiation or chemotherapy.
"I started with skepticism because it was new. The numbers weren't there. My wife wanted to hear statistics like anybody would and they're just not there, except that Dr. Jurige has been performing it the last 10 years," DeCamillis said.
It's a procedure called HIFU, with a device that uses high-intensity ultrasound waves to destroy cancerous prostate tissue. Dr. Jurige was the first physician to perform it in the U.S. less than two years ago, creating the epicenter right here in Louisville. It remains the only place in the state to offer HIFU.
"When we use it in conjunction with MRI, it allows us the option of targeting specifically the area of the prostate where the cancer is found as opposed to treating the whole prostate," Dr. Jurige said.
Patients go under a general anesthetic for about two hours. The HIFU is an outpatient procedure and most men are able to resume normal activities the next day.
"Relatively quick recovery time, minimal pain, no blood loss, high probability of preserving bladder and sexual function," Dr. Jurige said.
Even better, 94 percent of patients are cancer-free after 5 years, with no further treatments.
The best candidates for the HIFU are those with early stage prostate cancer. Dr. Jurige says men should start testing in their 40's, if not earlier, if your family has a history, or you're apart of the African American community, which for unknown reasons, is seeing a higher rate of diagnoses.
"I tell all of my friends, I don't care if it's in your family or not. Why not get tested at 40, or 45?" DeCamillis said. "The numbers are there. It affects one out of every 7. Do yourself a favor and get the screening early."
It's the best way to protect yourself. In most cases, there aren't any symptoms of prostate cancer, until the later stages.
"I wouldn't have caught this at my age had I not been testing or screened because I never had any signs of symptoms," DeCamillis said.
You can keep track of your health with blood tests, rectal exams or MRI's that allow for more precise treatment if cancer is found.
"The big picture is you have cancer and that should be your first goal, to eradicate the cancer. Don't be selfish enough to think, I want to make sure I can still do this and that. Because you're talking about a father of four and I want to be around a while," DeCamillis said.
DeCamillis had his procedure back in April. We're told he even made it to his son's basketball game in Lexington just 12 hours later. He'll head back to Dr. Jurige in 6 months for a follow up MRI.
Contact Dr. John Jurige: http://www.hifuprostateservices.com/john-h-jurige-md/
Key statistics for prostate cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
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Dr. John Jurige on WHAS11 talks HIFU