Doctor sees high rate of prostate cancer in Steamboat: Get screened
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Richard Petry’s body didn’t give him any sign that cancerous nodules were wreaking havoc on his prostate. He felt no pain and had no issues urinating.
He was in good health — an avid skier at 66 years old with no family history of prostate cancer. As a UPS driver, Petry had his PSA levels checked every other year. It was easy, and it was free. His levels were always fine.
Then two years went by between tests, and he had a colonoscopy. The doctor saw some bumps on his prostate gland and advised Petry to get them checked out.
“I kind of blew it off — like all males do,” Petry said.
Then his primary physician told him the same thing: “You need to get that checked — go to a urologist.”
Petry did and found his PSA levels had skyrocketed and his prostate was “totally infected with cancer.”
The Steamboat Springs urologist, Dr. Clay Pendleton, gave him three options: radiation, take out his prostate or get a second opinion.
It didn’t take Petry long to decide — he wanted it out.
He’d seen friends go through radiation and chemotherapy, and “I didn’t want any part of that.” Plus, he knew his prostate was “too far gone.”
Within just a few days, Petry underwent surgery. That was June 20, 2018.
He was down for a couple days, then had to wear a catheter for about 10 days. But the timing worked out well, he said — the Tour de France was on television.
The cancer hadn’t spread outside his prostate, and they were able to remove it in one piece.
Petry gets his PSA levels checked every three months. The surgery was minimally invasive and side effects minor, he said.
Because it all happened so quickly, Petry didn’t have a lot of time to spend thinking about having a cancer diagnosis. But he was surprised at how quickly the cancer took over and grateful that he was able to get everything done without leaving Steamboat.
He had good advice from doctors he trusted and was proactive.
Today, “I’ve never felt better,” he said.
And Petry knows he’s lucky.
Pendleton said he has been seeing a “very high rate of prostate cancer” in his work in Steamboat and Summit County. He said there were about 150 diagnoses between both clinics last year. And over one third of those were aggressive.
- Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among males in the U.S.
- It is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer.
- About one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, and one in 41 men will die of prostate cancer.
- In 2019, it is estimated there will be about 174,650 new cases of prostate cancer and about 31,620 deaths from prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among males in the U.S. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer.
About one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, and one in 41 men will die of prostate cancer.
In 2019, it is estimated that there will be about 174,650 new cases of prostate cancer and about 31,620 deaths from prostate cancer.
“It’s considered incurable once it spreads outside the prostate,” Pendleton said. But it is treatable, especially if found early on.
So what exactly is the prostate, who is more prone to getting prostate cancer and how can you best monitor the health of your prostate?
On Wednesday, September 18, Pendleton will be answering those questions at a free community health education event at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will also include an optional prostate screening.
What: Free prostate screening and discussion
When: Wednesday, Sept. 18, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center conference rooms
- Bring your most recent PSA blood test.
- PSA blood draws are available for $29 at YVMC Lab Mondays to Fridays 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 8 a.m. to
The prostate, explained Pendleton, is a walnut-shaped organ that sits at the base of the bladder. It is used strictly for fertility purposes — once you are done fertilizing, it’s a useless organ.
Risk factors for prostate cancer are similar for those for breast cancer in females, he said. It is rare under 40, but rapidly increases after age 50. And like breast cancer, it can be a “silent killer,” without any signs or symptoms.
The majority of the time it is asymptomatic, Pendleton said.
African Americans are at twice the risk over caucasians, while Asian and hispanic men have a lower risk.
It occurs more in North America, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean than it does in Central or South America.
And family history is a big one, he said. If you have a father or brother with prostate cancer, you are at two times the risk. If you have multiple “first degree” male relatives, the risk climbs even higher.
“Talk to your family,” he said.
A 2013 study by the Portland VA Medical Center and Oregon Health and Science University found that veterans exposed to Agent Orange are not only at a higher risk for prostate cancer, but they are more likely to have aggressive forms of the disease, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
The methods and recommendations for screening are varied and somewhat debatable, Pendleton said. They include blood tests, urine tests, biopsies and MRIs. And screening has seen significant advancement in recent years, he said, and doctors are now better able to detect prostate cancer.
Petry’s advice to other mature men is to at least start with a PSA test . It’s cheap. It’s easy. Do it.
For more information about Wednesday’s event call 970-875-2764 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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Pulmonologist Dr. Brent Peters, medical director of the Sleep Lab at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, considers his work in sleep medicine fun because of the positive changes he can see in patients.