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Prostate cancer survivor, Mark Good, wants everyone to know how to prevent the second-most common cause of cancer deaths among men.
At 56 years old, Mark Good is pretty young to have had prostate cancer. But when a blood test showed elevated levels of a prostate-specific antigen (PSA), he “knew” he had the disease – even though dozens of biopsies taken at two medical centers failed to locate it.
“My dad had colon cancer, which meant I was more prone to getting it than average,” Good says. “Two of my brothers were also diagnosed with prostate cancer. I knew it had to be there.”
When Good moved to Waukee last year, his physician in Fort Dodge referred him to The Iowa Clinic Men's Center, where he saw Urologist Brian Gallagher, M.D. After another blood test showed that Good's PSA number had further increased, more biopsies were performed. Finally, the cancer was located.
From the time Good began pursuing the reason behind his rising PSA, a total of 63 tissue samples had been taken. “Only one was positive for cancer – and it was an aggressive cancer at that,” Good says.
Dr. Gallagher says, “Depending on the patient's age and condition, there are a number of treatment options for prostate cancer. Technologies and treatments have improved significantly in the last 10 to 15 years. For example, robotic-assisted surgeries allow patients to get back to work sooner and help improve traditional post-surgical issues, such as incontinence and impotence.”
After discussing his options with Gallagher, Good opted for a radical prostatectomy. On November 11, 2014, his prostate gland and some surrounding tissue were surgically removed. Because the cancer had not spread outside of the prostate, he did not have need to have chemo- or radiation therapy.
Today Good is cancer-free. “I consider myself very fortunate that Dr. Gallagher found it,” he says.
But not everyone is so fortunate. Good recently learned that the husband of a college classmate died from prostate cancer. “He got his physicals, but never had a PSA test. When he became sick, (the cancer) had already spread throughout his body. Really? It only takes a simple blood test.”
Now, Good is on a mission to raise awareness about prostate cancer and the importance of finding it early, when it can be most easily treated. He's teamed up with the national nonprofit organization ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer to bring America's largest men's health event to Des Moines. The ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk will debut here on September 19 (see sidebar).
“Funds raised through the walk will support research, encourage action, and provide education and support to men and their families, both here in our community and nationally,” says Good.
Most important, adds Gallagher, the event will put the spotlight on early detection and prevention of prostate cancer, which affects one in seven American men during their lifetimes.
“The earlier you find prostate cancer, the better the chances of curing the disease. Go to your doctor, talk about PSA,” Gallagher advises.