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“Mr. Englert, you have cancer.” In 2015, Tony Englert was stunned to hear “the words you don’t expect to hear in your lifetime.” After all, Tony was 67, healthy, an avid runner and golfer, and still managing a high-profile executive career. Most important, Tony had not experienced any prostate cancer symptoms, such as urinary retention or bone pain.
Many men with prostate cancer never notice symptoms at all. For Tony, the red flags were slightly elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels detected over a few years during his routine annual physicals. Tony underwent a biopsy at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and it confirmed intermediate-grade cancer. Upon receiving the news, Tony decided he “didn’t want to sit around the house that day.” So, he went to the gym. “It took me two days to say that I had CANCER,” he says.
Afterward, Tony plunged into research with his characteristic energy. His cancer had not spread and was treatable. It was a question of choosing the right treatment option. He reached out to other prostate patients and reviewed countless articles.
In his consults with physicians all over the country, Tony kept coming back to Sean Collins, MD, director of the CyberKnife® Prostate program at MedStar Georgetown.
With CyberKnife, there is no going under the knife at all. “CyberKnife is an external radiation device that targets cancer cells with high doses of radiation, with a surgical precision that protects surrounding healthy tissue,” says Dr. Collins. “CyberKnife has a real-time tracking system that provides updated prostate positioning and corrects the targeting of the radiation beam during treatment, so you have sub-millimeter accuracy.”
The biggest advantages for Tony were convenience, increased chance of cure, and the lower likelihood of significant side effects. “CyberKnife is painless, and there is virtually no recovery time. Most patients need just five treatments, versus the 40 required with conventional radiation,” Dr. Collins explains.
“I thought Mr. Englert was a great candidate for CyberKnife,” Dr. Collins says. “I didn’t think conventionally fractionated intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) was adequate to control his cancer for his long life expectancy. I wanted to give him the best chance, with the most accurate high-dose radiation, to control his cancer for the rest of his life.”
CyberKnife requires a team approach. Dr. Collins works closely with MedStar Georgetown Urology, Radiology, Medical Oncology, and Radiation Oncology teams. “We tag team it,” he says. “We’ve been treating prostate cancer with the CyberKnife for 15 years. We’ve treated 1,900 patients, and we follow all of them. We’ve learned from every single one of those 1,900 patients how to improve our outcomes. Because of that approach, I now think we are the best prostate CyberKnife program in the world.”
Approximately two weeks prior to treatment, John Lynch, MD, a urologist and former chair of the Urology department at MedStar Georgetown performed a critical step in the CyberKnife process. He implanted four tiny gold pellets, or markers, into Tony’s prostate. CyberKnife uses these markers to track the tumor.
On the first day of treatment, Tony was apprehensive. “The unknown, you know? But it was so nothing,” he says. During the second treatment, Tony listened to his favorite Wynton Marsalis CD. “By the fourth or fifth treatment, I was about to take a nap!”
Adding to Tony’s comfort was the support of his MedStar Georgetown team. “They were not only pleasant, but qualified. They made you feel welcomed—like old friends. As great as Dr. Collins is—he saved my life!—the techs were outstanding.” On his last day of treatment, Tony gave each member a personal note and a gift. He still stops by occasionally to say hello. About Dr. Collins, he says, “he cares, and it shows. And I’ve worked with a lot of physicians.”
After treatment, Tony’s first PSA results were better than expected: Seven years later, his PSA remains low, and he maintains his active lifestyle. “I recommend anyone diagnosed with prostate cancer to seriously consider CyberKnife at MedStar Georgetown,” Tony says. “I mean, why wouldn’t you?”
To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call 202-444-4639.
For more information about Cyberknife for treating prostate cancer, watch Dr. Collins answer commonly asked questions.
An avid runner and golfer, Tony Englert was stunned to find out he had prostate cancer. After reviewing countless articles about prostate cancer treatment, consulting with oncologists around the country, and talking to prostate cancer survivors, Tony found out about the CyberKnife program for treating prostate cancer at MedStar Health.