Prostate Cancer Patient Does His Research and Chooses Proton Therapy to Treat His Aggressive Disease

Dr.-Lischalk-with-Denwiddie(Washington, D.C.)  When Melvin Denwiddie, 73 was diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2016 his physicians first told him the “watch and wait” strategy would be sufficient.  But in 2017 further testing showed that his cancer had become more aggressive and it was time to get treated.

“My prostate cancer was potentially fatal if I didn’t start treatment,” says Denwiddie. “My choices were surgery to remove the prostate, traditional radiation or proton radiation,” says the great-grandfather of three. “I did my research and I wanted proton therapy.  I found that proton therapy would be the most accurate; it would follow the shape of my tumor and would penetrate only the tumor and not any of the tissue outside of the tumor.  That was very important to me.”

That’s when he found proton therapy at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and his radiation oncologist, Jonathan Lischalk, MD.

“It’s important to sit down with patients and discuss their treatment options,” says Dr. Lischalk. “For localized prostate cancer, a variety of treatment options exist including surgery and radiation therapy.  Even within radiation therapy, many options exist including proton therapy, x-ray-based therapy, and brachytherapy.  Helping a patient understand his treatment options, the related side effects, and the clinical outcomes is extremely important.”

The proton therapy system at MedStar Georgetown is the first and only in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and is the first in the world to offer proton therapy with HYPERSCAN™ technology. HYPERSCAN produces beams that are sharper than other proton systems and treats patients faster.

Denwiddie received 43 proton treatments over the course of July through September 2018.

“From my standpoint, proton therapy is a very good treatment process. It was not invasive, it wasn’t painful and I experienced very few side effects,” says Denwiddie.  “Aside from my bladder becoming overactive, it was a pretty easy treatment from beginning to end.  And any side effects I had are getting better.”

With proton therapy complete, Denwiddie continues with hormone treatments for his prostate cancer under the care of his urology team at MedStar Georgetown.

Denwiddie with Dr. Lischalk in an exam room
Melvin Denwiddie (left) and Dr. Lischalk (right)

“Proton therapy is proving to be an excellent option for prostate cancer treatment,” say Ryan Hankins, MD, a urologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “From a urology standpoint, I am able to use a small needle through the skin to place the needed fiducial markers and gel spacer to help improve patient outcomes and make proton therapy more precise. This is done with no incisions on the skin. Dr. Lischalk and I also coordinate patient visits to help make the patient's visit to MedStar Georgetown as seamless as possible.”

Denwiddie is a retired accountant for NASA but continues to prepare tax returns and represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service. “It’s a labor of love I’ve been practicing since 1972.  It’s such a pleasure to know that I can continue to help people when they need it in this way.”

With his wife of more than 50 years newly retired and his prostate cancer treated, Denwiddie looks to the future with optimism and excitement.

“I feel confident that this prostate cancer is a thing of the past. The rest of my life, I’m looking forward to enjoying the freedom and flexibility to move around and travel with my wife.  That includes visiting family and places I haven’t had the opportunity to see yet. I’m very excited about my future.”

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Marianne Worley
Director of Media Relations
Office: 703-558-1287
Pager: 202-405-2824
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Brendan McNamara 
Media Relations Specialist
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Men’s Health: New Treatment for Enlarged Prostate Offers Better Outcomes for Urination Problems

Same-day office procedure for BPH treatment offers faster recovery time, no sexual side effects

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is the first center in the region to offer a new way to treat men with urination problems due to an enlarged prostate. The UroLift System is a minimally invasive procedure for men who experience difficulty urinating due to benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), commonly known as enlarged prostate.

“For men who can’t control their urine or get a good night’s sleep, they need to know that we offer superior options for BPH that are life-changing compared to traditional treatments,” says Gaurav Bandi, MD, urologist at MedStar Georgetown. “Everything is done through a telescope today.”

A man’s prostate gland grows as he gets older. According to the National Institutes of Health, BPH affects 50 percent of men over 50 and 90 percent of men over 80. When the prostate gland enlarges, it squeezes the urethra, the tube where urine flows out of the bladder. This compression irritates the bladder and limits the ability of the bladder to empty completely.

UroLift Treats BPH in 5 to 10 Minutes

The UroLift procedure offered at MedStar Georgetown is a five minute, office-based procedure to safely and effectively treat BPH.

UroLift  is performed under local anesthesia and requires no cutting or heating of the prostate. During a single office visit, doctors insert four to six implants into the prostate to lift the prostate gland and relieve the compression, removing any blockage in the urethra. The procedure preserves sexual function and relieves symptoms. Patients experience minimal post-procedure bleeding or pain and require no special follow-up or medical management.

Men with a prostate size between 20 and 80cc are candidates for Urolift. Patients on blood thinners are also eligible for this procedure. For men with a prostate size over 80cc, other minimally invasive surgical options are available to treat BPH.

Traditional treatments for BPH were invasive, had significant sexual side effects, or required a man to take one to three medications daily for the rest of his life. New treatment options are less invasive, give the doctor better access to the prostate gland, and require minimal downtime after treatment.

BPH symptoms include:

  • Frequently urinating or trying to urinate during the day
  • A feeling that the bladder is not fully emptied
  • A slow or weak stream of urine
  • Trouble with starting to urinate
  • Feeling the constant need to urinate
  • Interrupted sleep in the middle of the night
  • Dribbling or leaking of urine

“A lot of what I do relates to the patient’s quality of life, so our team provides evidence-based care in an individualized fashion,” says Dr. Bandi. “Men should be encouraged to seek help for any prostate problems. A majority of the time, we can relieve their symptoms and improve their quality of life. And today the options we can offer are minimally invasive. There is help available!”

For more information about other treatments for BPH or schedule an appointment with a urologist, call 855-546-0616. Watch Dr. Bandi talk more about BPH and other condition of the prostate in this video.


Media Contact

Marianne Worley
Director of Media Relations
Office: 703-558-1287
Pager: 202-405-2824
[email protected]