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East Texan men speak out about battling, overcoming prostate cancer

Dr. James E. McAndrew

Prostate cancer may silently reside in a man’s prostate, giving no clue of its presence. Nevertheless, doctors can discover it and have several tools to successfully treat prostate cancer if the disease is detected early.

On his 60th birthday Mike Landess, of Tyler, who worked for years as an award-winning broadcast journalist around the country, was diagnosed with prostate cancer following a biopsy.

Landess underwent treatment, a kind known at the time as targeted focal therapy in conjunction with an ultrasound 3D computer image of the prostate to pinpoint the location of the tumor. Doctors froze his tumor with argon gas to kill the cancer. A laser is currently used in the procedure.

Since then, Landess has regular checkups. Now 73, Landess has been cancer free for 12 years. He said, “It (prostate cancer) doesn’t have to be a death sentence. More often than not, prostate cancer can be treated if it’s caught early.”

Landess said, “Prostate cancer is not something that you want to let go because once the cancer gets out of the prostate itself and is not encapsulated anymore, it can spread to your entire body.”

No matter who diagnoses prostate cancer, Landess recommends getting a second opinion and acquiring information available today on the variety of ways for the latest treatment options.

“Make sure that you have all the best information and feel confident in the information you’ve gotten from your doctor about what choice you make and talk it over with your family,” Landess said.

About 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. And this year the society estimates almost 175,000 new cases of prostate cancer and a little more than 31,000 deaths from it. As Tyler gears up for this year’s Zero Prostate Cancer Run/Walk, several survivors shared their stories with the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

‘I Still Feel Great’

Melvin Dean, of Bullard, who is a technical project lead for Brookshire Grocery Co., remembers it was stressful when doctors told him he had prostate cancer back in 2013. In his late 50s at the time, Dean said, “You never think about having cancer.”

Dean had no symptoms of prostate cancer when it was discovered that he had it.

When Dean went in six years ago to see his internist for his annual physical exam, the doctor found during a screening that the level of a chemical called prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in his blood had shot up from previous years.

Produced only by prostate cells, the chemical is released into the bloodstream. Cancerous prostate cells tend to leak more of the chemical than normal prostate cells. Physicians use a simple blood test to measure the level of PSA and then divide men into low- or high-risk groups for having prostate cancer.

Faced with a suddenly high PSA report on Dean, his internist first prescribed antibiotics in case Dean had an infection.

But after a couple of weeks on antibiotics, Dean still had a high PSA level. The internist then recommended Dean see a urologist and the urologist recommended a biopsy.

According to the American Cancer Society’s website, the actual diagnosis of prostate cancer can only be made with a prostate biopsy.

Dean’s biopsy showed cancer of the prostate, but that the cancer was contained within the prostate.

A surgeon removed Dean’s prostate in October 2013 and he has been cancer free since then.

“I still feel great,” said Dean, who likes to go riding on his mountain bike.

Dean’s advice to other men now is, “Have your physical every year and have your PSA checked every year to see if there’s a change in it. I tell my brothers to have your PSA checked. I thank God I don’t have cancer anymore and that it was contained inside the prostate.”

Dean said, ”If it wasn’t for the PSA check, I would have never known it.” He speculated, though, that symptoms probably would have developed if his cancer had gotten further along.

‘Put Your Pride Aside’

Roderick Russell’s doctor had been monitoring his PSA and noticed last April that it was suddenly trending upward. The physician encouraged Russell, 42, of Tyler, to see a urologist, who scheduled him for a biopsy.

It showed 11 of 12 sections of Russell’s prostate was filled with cancer. Russell underwent a prostatectomy surgery in late June. The hardest part of the ordeal was the initial shock, he said.

Still recovering, Russell, an information technologist at UT Health East Texas, seeks to bring more awareness to other men about prostate cancer and encourages more men to take the initiative and get themselves checked.

“They should definitely get checked,” Russell said. “A lot of men are scared of the whole test, but I say, ‘put your pride aside.’ Go get checked and find out the facts. Also find out your family history because that can contribute to it. Take the necessary steps to get yourself healthy.”

‘Don’t Put This Off’

But in the case of Casey Manuel, who works with the store brand team at the Tyler office of Brookshire Grocery Co., his PSA blood level was low and not indicating cancer at all.

It was his physician’s annual physical exam that turned up the possibility that Manuel might have prostate cancer eight years ago. “The doctor discovered irregularities with my prostate, so she sent me to a urologist,” he said.

The urologist performed a biopsy that showed cancer and treated him with radiation to kill the cancer cells.

Manuel, who was 59 at the time, said he breezed through 48 rounds of radiation therapy spread over five days a week with two days for rest. He had no side effects and the therapy was a quick procedure. “I was back in the office in less than an hour,” he said.

Now Manuel stresses to other men the importance of going to the doctor and having regular physical examinations.

“If they catch it early like mine, I’m pretty sure it’s a 100 percent cure rate,” he said. “I’m fine. I look forward to living a long productive life without cancer.”

Manuel added, “Guys don’t like to go to the doctor, but go to the doctor. Have your regular physicals. Don’t put this off. They should always get a physical every year so the doctors can find it early if it’s there. It’s highly treatable.”

Having a physical exam was especially important in his case because his PSA remained low even while he was going through radiation, Manuel said.

‘PSA is a Very Good Tool’

Since Dr. James D. McAndrew, 58, is a urologist and has a strong family history of prostate cancer, he was monitoring his PSA closely. It began to rise 2 1/2 years ago, which led to a biopsy and a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

McAndrew had radical robotic surgery to remove the prostate completely.

Until his PSA had started going up, there were no symptoms of cancer.

“That’s the whole thing about prostate cancer,” McAndrew said. “Early on, when it’s the most treatable, it usually has no symptoms, so PSA is a very good tool (for alerting about the possibility of cancer).”

McAndrew also was aware that he was at high risk of prostate cancer because his father, grandfather and uncle all had prostate cancer. Men with a family history of prostate cancer, which usually means a father or brother, have a higher risk for the development of prostate cancer, McAndrew said.

Prostate cancer tends to be more common the older men get, but men with a family history of prostate cancer or African American men are at a still higher risk of getting it, the urologist said. African American men are at higher risk than white, Asian or Latino men, he said. They tend to get it younger. And more often, it has a more aggressive course in African American men, McAndrew said.

“African American men should start getting their PSA checked once a year after they turn 40,” McAndrew said. “Other men should start at least at 50 getting their PSA checked.”

Men are scared and tend not to go to the doctor and not have their PSA checked, McAndrew said. By not getting the PSA blood test, men may not get to choose what their step is if a determination is made later that they have prostate cancer, he said.

Some men may have a low-grade cancer that only needs to be monitored, while other men need more aggressive treatment, McAndrew said. “If you don’t even know things are going on, you don’t have a choice. It’s best to get the blood test and see where you are,” he advised.

Usually a family doctor or internist doing a routine exam or PSA blood test diagnose that a patient may have prostate cancer. The family doctor or internist usually refers the patient to a urologist for further evaluation and maybe a biopsy.

“Sometimes it comes back clear, which is great news. Other times, we find cancer and the urologist will counsel the man on treatment options. Then there is a joint decision where to go from there,” McAndrew said.

Treatment is customized for the individual man, based in part on how aggressive the cancer looks, their age and family history.

Twitter: @Tylerpaper

John Tyler, Robert E. Lee high school bands raise money with March-A-Thon

The John Tyler High School Big Blue Band and the Robert E. Lee High School Red Raider Band performed their annual March-A-Thon fundraising events Saturday.

As they marched through the neighborhoods along individual routes, people had the opportunity to receive personal concerts and/or give donations to the band.

The Big Blue Band started at John Tyler and moved through the neighborhood behind the school. The Red Raider Band marched through neighborhoods behind Chili’s inside the loop.

To give donations to the bands, call 903-262-2887 for the Big Blue Band and 903-262-2679 for the Red Raider Band.

TWITTER: @Tylerpaper

Powerful, obscure law is basis for Trump 'order' on trade

BIARRITZ, France — President Donald Trump is threatening to use the emergency authority granted by a powerful but obscure federal law to make good on his tweeted “order” to U.S. businesses to cut ties in China amid a spiraling trade war between the two nations.

China’s announcement Friday that it was raising tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. imports sent Trump into a rage and White House aides scrambling for a response.

Trump fired off on Twitter, declaring American companies “are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China.” He later clarified that he was threatening to make use of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act in the trade war, raising questions about the wisdom and propriety of making the 1977 act used to target rogue regimes, terrorists and drug traffickers the newest weapon in the clash between the world’s largest economies.

It would mark the latest grasp of authority by Trump, who has claimed widespread powers not sought by his predecessors despite his own past criticism of their use of executive powers.

“For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977,” Trump tweeted late Friday. “Case closed!”

The act gives presidents wide berth in regulating international commerce during times of declared national emergencies. Trump threatened to use those powers earlier this year to place tariffs on imports from Mexico in a bid to force the U.S. neighbor to do more to address illegal crossings at their shared border.

It was not immediately clear how Trump could use the act to force American businesses to move their manufacturing out of China and to the U.S, and Trump’s threat appeared premature — as he has not declared an emergency with respect to China.

Even without the emergency threat, Trump’s retaliatory action Friday — further raising tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S. — had already sparked widespread outrage from the business community.

“It’s impossible for businesses to plan for the future in this type of environment,” David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement.

The Consumer Technology Association called the escalating tariffs “the worst economic mistake since the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 — a decision that catapulted our country into the Great Depression.”

And trade association CompTIA stressed the logistical strain that would follow if companies were forced to shift operations out of China, saying it would take months for most companies.

“Any forced immediate action would result in chaos,” CEO Todd Thibodeaux said in emailed comments.

The frequent tariff fluctuations are making it hard to plan and are casting uncertainty on some investments, said Peter Bragdon, executive vice president and chief administration officer of Columbia Sportswear.

“There’s no way for anyone to plan around chaos and incoherence,” he said.

Columbia manufactures in more than 20 countries, including China. This diversification helps shield the company from some fluctuations, but China is an important base for serving Chinese customers as well as those in other countries, Bragdon said. The company plans to continue doing business there.

“We follow the rule of law, not the rule of Twitter,” he said.

Presidents have often used the act to impose economic sanctions to further U.S. foreign policy and national security goals. Initially, the targets were foreign states or their governments, but over the years the act has been increasingly used to punish individuals, groups and non-state actors, such as terrorists.

Some of the sanctions have affected U.S. businesses by prohibiting Americans from doing business with those targeted. The act also was used to block new investment in Burma in 1997.

Congress has never attempted to end a national emergency invoking the law, which would require a joint resolution. Congressional lawmakers did vote earlier this year to disapprove of Trump’s declared emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border, only to see Trump veto the resolution.

China’s Commerce Ministry issued a statement Saturday condemning Trump’s threat, saying, “This kind of unilateral, bullying trade protectionism and maximum pressure go against the consensus reached by the two countries’ heads of state, violate the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and seriously damage the multilateral trading system and normal international trade order.”