Why I traveled across the world for prostate cancer treatment
Naresh Aggarwal, M.D.
When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I was determined to find the best care and treatment. As an orthopedic surgeon, I have traveled the world delivering lectures. After receiving my diagnosis, I knew that I would have to make a decision about undergoing surgery or radiation therapy.
I consulted some of the best surgeons and oncologists in the world but wanted to do my own research to see what was best for me. I wanted to avoid permanent side effects, so I decided to explore different types of radiation therapy. My biopsy showed that the cancer had not spread, but the tumor was beginning to grow outside of my prostate.
Researching prostate cancer treatment and deciding on MD Anderson
I live in India, but had my MRI and biopsy reviewed by multiple doctors worldwide. I eventually decided on a hospital in California. In January 2020, I started treatment with hormone therapy there. I had to wait eight weeks before I could start radiation therapy, so I used that time to continue educating myself. I wanted to learn more about my cancer and the treatment I was about to get.
But before I began radiation, my doctor changed my treatment plan. I felt nervous and unsure about this. So, I continued to research. I watched videos of presentations about the latest updates on prostate cancer treatment. I stumbled upon a video presentation by radiation oncologist, Steven Frank, M.D., on low-dose rate prostate brachytherapy using the MRI-assisted radiosurgery (MARS) technique. I was very impressed. As a doctor myself, I could see this was different. Dr. Frank’s approach to treatment was very passionate and innovative.
I requested a consultation with Dr. Frank at MD Anderson. After meeting him in person, I knew he personified the spirit of MD Anderson. He brings new ideas and technologies to cancer treatment. He lives the dream of Making Cancer History®. My wife and I trusted Dr. Frank, so we decided to move my treatment to MD Anderson.
Undergoing MARS brachytherapy and proton therapy treatment for prostate cancer
After reviewing my case, Dr. Frank recommended proton therapy in combination with MARS brachytherapy. Proton therapy uses a different type of radiation and targets tumors much more accurately.
I started proton therapy treatments on May 20, 2020. My side effects from treatments were minimal, and treatment did not affect my daily activities. I’m a practicing physician and was able to continue virtual consultations with my patients. After treatment each day, I walked several miles. I also played golf, did yoga or spent time shopping with my wife.
I had weekly consultations with Dr. Frank to go over any questions I had. His team helped me manage any symptoms I was feeling from treatment.
My radiation therapists, Stephanie Bazille and Denice Jones, have redefined excellence. From checking my arm band to checking to make sure the proton beam was lined up perfectly for each daily treatment, they did not miss a step.
I completed proton therapy treatment on June 20. I received the MARS brachytherapy implant 10 days later. For patients with high-risk diseases, this type of internal radiation therapy provides an end-of-treatment boost to reduce the risk of the cancer progressing.
Gratitude for my MD Anderson experience
I found out about these treatments by accident. I hope to help others learn about these cancer treatment opportunities. There are many exceptional doctors like Dr. Frank at MD Anderson. MD Anderson provides highly personalized treatment plans using cutting-edge technology. I will also continue to remind my patients the importance of regular cancer screening exams.
My advice to those newly diagnosed is to do your own research. By being aware of all the different treatment options available, you can find the right option for you.