Heart Surgeon Chose CyberKnife for His Prostate Cancer Treatment

And he’s very glad he did, dodging side effects of incontinence and impotence that can often occur with traditional treatments.

anova cancer care patient storyDr. John Richards (name has been changed) was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005 after an annual exam with his primary care provider. As a retired heart surgeon, he was now faced with the question of how to choose the best treatment for himself.

After his initial diagnosis, he decided to “watchfully wait,” which turned out to be for the following five years. But as his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels continued to rise, Richards realized that he needed to take action. He researched available treatment options and alternatives to traditional prostate cancer surgery.

“From what I could tell we were probably over treating a lot of prostate cancers,” said Richards. “I was recommended to seek therapy from my first urologist and I just wasn’t ready to commit to a treatment that could result in those side effects we all read about.”

Those side effects of traditional prostate cancer treatment and surgery include impotence and incontinence. If there was a better option out there, Richards was going to find it. His research led him to CyberKnife, a promising radiosurgery system that delivers precise radiation beams to destroy cancer cells.

Richards thought he might have just discovered the best treatment for him so he looked into who offered the treatment in Denver. Enter Anova Cancer Care (ACC).

Anova’s oncologist at the time, had performed about 50 or 60 prostate cancer treatments at that point—a relatively low number from a medical timeline (ACC has now performed over 1,000). Was taking a chance on a newer technology and technique worth it? For Richards, it absolutely was. He scheduled his treatment in December 2010.

New technology that doesn’t lower quality of life

“Although the technology was more in its infancy, the success rates seemed promising,” said Richards. “If a man wants to treat his prostate cancer, he needs to explore the option of CyberKnife, as there are very few therapies that will actually treat the cancer without lowering your quality of life.”

Richards received five total CyberKnife treatments with a one-day break in between each session. Everything went as planned and his PSA dipped following his treatment.

“Dr. Dickerson and his entire staff were wonderful,” he said. “Even though the treatments were very easy, everyone made me very comfortable throughout the entire process.”

In his follow-up appointments at ACC, Richards continues to have low PSA levels. He was so pleased with his results that he has become an advocate for the CyberKnife treatment at ACC. He says he has spoken to about a dozen different patients considering the CyberKnife system for treating their prostate cancer.

“Ultimately it is up to the patient to make his own decision on how to treat his prostate cancer,” said Richards. “But I would urge everyone to at least consider CyberKnife.”

Another benefit of the CyberKnife treatment is that it doesn’t interfere with daily life. Even throughout the radiation treatment, Richards never missed a beat from his job running a varicose vein clinic. He started the clinic after he retired and provides minimally invasive procedures for patients with varicose veins.

“The clinic is an opportunity to continue to help people, without the stress of heart surgery,” said Richards.

Now that he is prostate cancer free, Richards is looking forward to spending more time with his family including two new grandchildren — something that Richards says will require as much energy as possible.


Learn more: Prostate Cancer Treatment PSA Testing