Dr. Drew Pinsky has spent much of his career helping other people deal with their health problems. But as he reveals in a new article on his website, he was the one who needed help this summer. In July, the 55-year-old radio and television personality underwent a radical robotic prostatectomy to treat the prostate cancer he had been diagnosed with two years earlier.
"I'd been sick here and there. But overall, I'd felt great," he writes on his site of how the problem was first detected. "In 2011 my wife, Susan, begged me to go to the doctor for a check-up. I was dismissive. I'm a doctor! I didn't see the point in going to another internist for a physical. But I went."
It's a good thing, too. Tests revealed that Pinsky had an inflamed prostate and slightly elevated PSA levels. (PSA tests, which detect something called prostate specific antigen, are used as a tool in the diagnosis of prostate cancer.) The cause turned out to be a low-grade tumor.
Many forms of prostate cancer are slow-growing, so Pinsky's doctor recommended active surveillance. That meant monitoring the tumor over the course of more than a year. Follow-up biopsies, however, showed that the mass was spreading, so Pinsky and his physician decided to pursue surgical removal of his prostate.
"I didn't need any convincing to have surgery," he writes. "My doctor had reached a point where he wasn't comfortable with active surveillance anymore. His discomfort was good enough for me. My prostate had to come out."
"I'm relatively young," he explains. "I have a wife. I have three children in college. I didn't want cancer coming back."
A prostatectomy turned out to be the right decision. "It was ready to spread, and would have, had it not been removed," Pinsky writes of his prostate.
That said, the recovery was not easy. Pinsky says he "felt as if someone had been messing around with [his] insides" when he came out of the anesthesia. He's better now, but he's still not doing everything he did before the procedure.
"I am working out again, eating well, and feeling very good. I'll begin running again soon," he writes. "The only remnant of cancer surgery is six small scars on my torso. They are fading fast. I'm hopeful I am cured."