Melvin Denwiddie’s Story

Proton Therapy Provides Patient Non-invasive Treatment for Life-threatening Prostate Cancer

After more than 40 years as a tax account, Melvin Denwiddie is used to answering other people’s questions about their taxes. But when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the latter part of 2016, he found he was the one who suddenly had a lot he wanted to know.

His cancer was very aggressive and potentially fatal, so he did a lot of his own research to examine his treatment options. That led to his discovery that MedStar Georgetown University Hospital treats patients with an advanced form of proton therapy that uses pencil beam scanning to treat one layer of a tumor at a time.

He met with Jonathan Lischalk, MD, director of Thoracic Radiation Oncology, and was found to be a candidate for this next generation of radiation therapy.

“I had a lot of questions,” Melvin says. “Dr. Lischalk is very patient oriented and his way of explaining things to me was one of the main things I really liked about him.”

Melvin says this treatment sounded much better than traditional options for his kind of cancer, including surgery to remove the prostate and traditional radiation.

Because it shapes around the tumor, proton therapy also applies less radiation than other types of radiation therapy, which lowers the risk of radiation-induced secondary cancers and results in fewer side effects.

Melvin received 43 treatments over two months and says it was noninvasive, pain-free, and he had very few side effects.

“‘Without proton therapy, my future would definitely be different,” Melvin says.

Now, the 73-year-old says he’s looking forward to the rest of his life with his wife of more than 50 years - Della, his three children, three grandchildren and three great grandchildren. And he says he highly recommends anyone else in his position consider this next generation treatment at MedStar Georgetown.

“The care they provide is the best I’ve ever seen. It’s just superb,” Melvin says. “I’m very grateful to be in this modern era of medicine and science and just so grateful to get the treatment option that was best for me.”