Two brothers, one disease

September 29, 2008 4:40:57 PM PDT
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S., second to skin cancer. The chances of surviving are good though, if you catch it early. That's why two local brothers are sharing their story. Ray and Terry McGowan, of Phoenixville, have very different jobs. Ray keeps supplies moving at Paoli hospital. Terry coaches the nationally-ranked Ursinus College women's softball team.

But this June, they both heard the same thing after a routine doctor's visit.

"My PSA numbers were higher," Ray said. Further tests by urologist Dr. James Bollinger confirmed they both had prostate cancer and needed surgery to remove the cancer.

After consultations, and some individual research, the McGowans decided on surgery with the ' Da Vinci' surgical robot.

"Using the Da Vinci surgical robot allows for so much more precision in the way the surgery is done," Dr. Bollinger of Paoli Hospital said. That means a smaller risk of incontinence, or impotence and a much faster recovery, which was especially important to Terry. "Being a college coach, I need to be out there recruiting every weekend," he said.

The brothers had surgery within days of each other and both were back on their feet in a few days. "I was out recruiting that Saturday and Sunday before the operation, and then I was back out that following weekend recruiting," Terry said.

Prostate cancer strikes one in 38 men between the ages of 40 and 59. That risk shoots up to one in 15 between the ages of 60 and 69.

Having a family history also doubles the chances of cancer and African-American are also at a greater risk.

The McGowan brothers say regular screening is what helped them beat cancer and hardly miss a beat. "If it wasn't for the blood test, I probably never would have known that I had it," Ray said.

Screening for prostate cancer isn't 100-percent accurate, but doctors say regular screening is the best way to catch cancer early. It's recommended all men be screened starting at age fifty. Men with risk factors should started screening at 40 years old.


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