Prostate cancer déjà vu for a Cape oncologist
When Craig Meier of Mashpee met Basia McAnaw, MD, a Cape Cod Healthcare radiation oncologist in 2017 to discuss radiation treatment for his prostate cancer, he found out they had more in common than his diagnosis and her treatment.
Craig’s late father, Norman, was the first Cape Cod Hospital patient to receive brachytherapy (radioactive seed implant) for prostate cancer in 1997. William Johnston, MD, (now retired) a Cape Cod Hospital urologist, performed the procedure with Dr. McAnaw.
“When I first saw Craig about a year ago, I was looking at his last name and thinking I recognized it,” said Dr. McAnaw. “While we were talking during the interview, Craig mentioned his father had a seed implantation 20 years ago and when I asked him where he had it done and he told me Cape Cod Hospital. I said, guess what? I did it!”
Norman did well and was cured of the prostate cancer.
“Radioactive seed implants are placed into the prostate where they slowly release radiation over several months,” said Dr. McAnaw. “It is an outpatient procedure that can be used to treat early and advanced prostate cancers.”
“We have a list of almost 1,700 patients we have treated with seed implants between Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital since 1997,” she said.
History in the Making
Seed implantation came into vogue in the early 1990’s when Dr. McAnaw was practicing at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton. She teamed up with a surgeon at the hospital and traveled to Seattle, Washington where they trained with the two specialists who were having great success with the implants.
Upon their return, the pair performed the first seed implant in New England in March, 1993 at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
They developed a course to teach other physicians and Dr. Johnston was among those who contacted Dr. McAnaw to learn the procedure and after his training he asked for her assistance.
“Dr. Johnston contacted me following his training and asked me if I would help him do the first two seed implants because they hadn’t done any at Cape Cod Hospital before,” said Dr. McAnaw.
“It was the beginning of a new era at Cape Cod Hospital,” she said. Surgeons and oncologists began to work together as a team to treat prostate cancer and offer another option besides surgery.
Craig remembers the day his father proudly pulled out a video cassette tape years later, to play the public service announcement he had done for Cape Cod Hospital about his radioactive seed implant.
“He played it about 30 seconds and he talked about how easy the procedure was,” said Craig.
Twenty years later, Craig agrees with his father.
Craig’s radioactive seeds implant was done in November, 2017 by J. Keith Bleiler, MD, a Falmouth Hospital urologist and Dr. McAnaw.
“The only uncomfortable part was going home after the procedure, with a [urinary] catheter and returning the next day to have it removed,” said Craig. The catheter is a flexible tube that drains urine from the bladder and while he had a burning sensation once he contacted Dr. Bleiler and was given a prescription to relieve the symptom, he was fine.
“We now remove the catheter the same day of the procedure,” said Dr. McAnaw.
Craig’s PSA levels dropped rapidly after the seed implants and his treatment has been successful.
He offers some advice to others:
- While the PSA test is not total accurate, it’s the best at the moment.
- Newer tests will be coming.
- The PSA testing absolutely, positively guides me to keep monitoring.
- Don’t leave the monitoring only to your doctor, take responsibility for your own health.
- The biggest thing people can do to improve their health is to improve their diet.
- What you put into your body is very important.
While Craig has had other medical challenges including treatment for colon cancer prior to his prostate cancer diagnosis and rotator cuff surgery, he is grateful to all the Falmouth Hospital specialists who have taken care of him including Dr. Bleiler and Dr. McAnaw.
“I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the care I received, that is absolutely true,” said Craig.