In 2010, Randy had his first blood test measuring his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level.
PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland. Although doctors disagree somewhat on what is considered "normal" for PSA levels, according to the National Cancer Institute, when PSA numbers begin to rise in a patient, it can indicate a prostate problem (prostate cancer or a non-cancerous prostate condition).
Randy's first PSA reading was 2.5 ng/mL; his second test was 3.5 ng/mL. After that, his numbers continued to rise, alarming his doctor. To check for cancer, his doctor decided to take a biopsy. Lab tests confirmed that Randy had early-stage prostate cancer.
At age 51, Randy still had much of his life ahead of him, and therefore he wanted to be treated as soon as possible. His urologist, Frank Lai, MD, recommended a prostatectomy with the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System. The da Vinci system allows doctors to operate by controlling tiny medical instruments via a computer console. Surgeries performed with da Vinci typically involve just a few small incisions and a quicker recovery, with fewer side effects from surgery.
In mid-December 2010, Randy had his surgery at El Camino Hospital. He spent one night in the hospital and then returned home. With the holidays approaching, Randy was concerned that it might be hard to manage everything, but his recovery went well. By January, he was back at work as a driver for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), where he has worked for 23 years.
Today Randy's PSA levels are at zero, and Randy couldn't be happier.
"Dr. Lai got all my cancer," says Randy, who now advises all his friends at the VTA to get their PSA test if their doctor suggests it. "I tell all the guys at work to get screened — not just for prostate cancer, but for colon cancer, too."
Randy says he hopes that, by sharing his story, he can help other men better understand prostate cancer treatment. And, Randy adds, it just might get more men talking about health matters, which certainly couldn't hurt.
Randy also encourages men with prostate cancer to involve their wives or significant others in treatment decisions, because it can affect a relationship.
"I'm happy to talk with anyone about my experience," says Randy, who looks forward to being involved in future patient education projects in the community.
Randy, thank you for sharing your story, and we wish you all the best!