Hollings patient pleads for screenings after two battles with prostate cancer | MUSK
Piece by piece, 76-year-old Friedrich Andreas is methodically building an outdoor kitchen for his son in Charleston. Andreas said the project reminded him of a recent battle with prostate cancer – you have to do both one step at a time.
Andreas, a German-born, moved to Charleston in 2015 to enjoy mild weather during his retirement. When he’s not working on a construction project, Andreas advocates for other men to take care of their health and get regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings.
“The only reason I even knew I had prostate cancer early on was because of a routine PSA test with my primary care physician,” Andreas said. “It really can make the difference between life and death. I think this really shows the importance of maintaining routine visits with your doctor.
Andreas has battled prostate cancer twice — first in 2018, when he had his prostate removed at another medical facility in Charleston, and then again in June 2021, when the cancer returned. Andreas decided to transfer his care to MUSC Hollings Cancer Center after learning the cancer had returned.
“At the other facility in Charleston, I felt more like a number. While at Hollings, I felt like my team of doctors really cared about my treatment and its outcome,” he said. he said “They told me about the Tumor Committee, made up of prostate cancer specialists, who would meet to review my case and design a program specifically for me.”
Andreas was first seen by Thomas Keane, MD, a Hollings urologist specializing in prostate and genitourinary cancers. Following the results of a PSA test showing elevated levels, Keane referred Andreas to David Marshall, MD, a Hollings radiation oncologist who specializes in prostate cancer.
“My approach with any patient is that when that person walks out of the exam room, they should feel better than when they walked in,” Marshall said. “You do that through education and talking to them about their options and what to expect.”
Marshall said Andreas is among Hollings’ prostate cancer patients who have benefited from improved imaging. In Andreas’ case, a device called Axumin, or fluciclovine F18 PET scan, was used because its improved imaging capabilities can detect and locate recurrences of prostate cancer better than older types of scans. Improved imaging allows doctors to deliver effective therapy to affected areas.
“It really helps us refine our treatment approach by giving us a better understanding of where the cancer cells that make PSA are,” Marshall said. “This allows us to target our radiation therapy to limit exposure to otherwise healthy cells.”
In fall 2021, Hollings also began offering prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) tracers during PET scans to patients whose prostate cancer has come back in an effort to better understand where the cells are. cancerous in the body. PSMA is a type of protein found on the surface of prostate cancer cells.
“This enhanced imaging helps us locate the cancer if it has already spread beyond the pelvis to determine if a radiation treatment regimen is needed. It also lets us know if we need to focus on an area and deliver a higher radiation dose to that specific location,” he said.
Marshall said Andreas’ treatment for his recurrence of prostate cancer consisted of 37 rounds of radiation over two months that ended in early September. Andreas said he was grateful to Marshall and his team of doctors who not only treated his cancer, but also allayed his fears.
Andreas said he was doing well during the radiotherapy and didn’t experience any side effects besides being a bit more tired. He continues to return for check-ups every six months to ensure there is no further recurrence. “There was no reason for me to be nervous or worried. From the moment I walked into Hollings I was comfortable. Everyone was friendly and professional, and I felt just like If I was in good hands, I’m still in good hands.
Andreas is now sharing his story with other men to raise awareness about prostate cancer. He said he looked forward to spending more time with his 43-year-old wife, children and four grandchildren. It’s also a good bet you’ll find him with tools in hand tackling another project.
“It keeps me busy and gives me something to look forward to. I also like to be creative, so these projects are fun for me. I’m able to finish them now, thanks to the care I received at Hollings.