Prostate Cancer Screening: An MRI May Save You from Needing a Biopsy!
- Written by by Annette Pinder
The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland in males that produces the seminal fluid that transports sperm. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. Many prostate cancers grow slowly, requiring minimal treatment because they do not cause serious harm, but others are more aggressive and spread quickly. As a result, prostate cancer that is detected early has the best chance for successful treatment.Unfortunately, prostate cancer often has no symptoms until the disease is advanced, and screening may help detect cancer early, when the chances of treatment success are high. But there is no one-size-fits-all approach to prostate cancer screening. Most screening for prostate cancer begins with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. PSA is an enzyme found in the prostate, and a high level of PSA can be a warning for prostate cancer. However, the PSA test is not 100 percent accurate. When there is a question, it often requires a prostate biopsy, a procedure that can cause bleeding, pain and infection. Prostate biopsies can also lead to the diagnosis of clinically insignificant cancers that would never have been detected or caused any problems for the patients.
David Cipolla, M.D., a radiologist at Great Lakes Medical Imaging, often recommends that patients undergo prostate MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) screening, because it is just as accurate as a prostate biopsy without the unpleasant and painful effects, and risk of infection involved in the procedure. “MRI machine uses magnetic and radio waves to produce detailed images of soft tissues and structures in the body, like the prostate,” explains Dr. Cipolla. Patients who undergo an MRI are positioned on an examination table that is slid into an MRI machine. The scan is completed within 30-45 minutes. The procedure is totally painless and non-invasive. Not only is it accurate at detecting prostate cancer, but it also helps tell how advanced the cancer is and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Having a prostate MRI can also detect other conditions involving the prostate conditions, such as infections or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is also better than biopsies at distinguishing benign and malignant cancers. The procedure is very simple and comfortable.
Dr. Cipolla says, “Prostate cancer often has no symptoms until the disease is advanced, and screening may help detect problems early, when the chances of treatment success are high.”
He tells patients to talk to their providers at their next checkup to go over any risk factors you may have for developing prostate cancer. “In general, discussions with your doctor should begin in your 40s.”
If you are at risk for prostate cancer, talk with your care provider about having your prostate MRI done at Great Lakes Medical Imaging (GLMI). Contact GLMI at 716-836-4646 and visit www.greatlakesmedicalimaging.com.
Dr. Maxim Mitchell: a family-oriented family doctor
- Written by Devon Dams-O'Connor
Dr. Maxim Mitchell is the modern-day version of a country doctor. He specializes in family medicine and pediatrics and treats patients from newborn to over 100 – often seeing three generations of the same family. Dr. Mitchell not only sees patients at General Physician PC’s Dunkirk location, he also makes house calls when needed, visits patients in local assisted living facilities, and treats some of his patients at Brooks Memorial Hospital.
This wide range of knowledge is a result of his training throughout the United States, Canada, Singapore and Ireland in several aspects of family medicine including obstetrics, geriatrics, emergency medicine, oncology, and pediatrics. During his residency, Dr. Mitchell studied in many rural locations where there weren’t specialists nearby. Instead, most medical help came from the local family doctor who needed a broader skillset to care for the community. An important part of caring for people, he learned, is really taking time to get to know each individual patient and what matters to them and their families.
After studying around the world, Dr. Mitchell is happy to have settled near his family across the border in Ontario, where he grew up and visits as often as he can. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Mitchell loves exploring local parks and hiking trails in all four seasons with his soon-to-be fiancé. He’s also a huge fan of the Buffalo Bills, astronomy, and doing “research” to find out who makes the best chicken wings in town.
3898 Vineyard Dr., Ste. 1, Dunkirk, NY 14048 • 716.363.6960
Shedule online at: https://www.gppconline.com/providers/direct-scheduling
Comprehensive cancer care continues well past chemo
- Written by Devon Dams-O’Connor
As anyone who’s been through it knows, cancer treatment doesn’t end with the last round of chemo or radiation. The days and weeks that follow mark the beginning of a new chapter in patients’ survival stories. Ringing out of treatment often means ringing in a lot of questions, too. What now? How can I keep myself healthy? Will it come back?
General Physician PC’s Cancer Survivorship Program helps patients and their families navigate what comes next. Offered in partnership with the Great Lakes Cancer Care Collaborative, the program connects patients with a comprehensive network of providers who work together to create a personalized plan to address each patient’s physical, mental, social, and spiritual health following cancer.
“People feel lost at the end of their treatment,” explains Program Director and Physician Assistant Jennifer Wojcik. “They feel a little abandoned. It all feels very anticlimactic. They’ve had this adrenaline rush to get through treatments, appointments – and then there’s nothing. They don’t really know what’s next, and there’s a lot of uncertainty. They may have some lingering symptoms and side effects and they’re not sure where to go. There are so many questions about how to get back to their previous level of functioning. For some patients, the downtime following treatment is their first real opportunity to start processing all they’ve been through, and some feelings start coming up.”
The Cancer Survivorship Program starts by creating a survivorship care plan – a roadmap with resources for recovery. It includes detailed records of diagnoses, treatments received, and potential long-term effects. This becomes a valuable reference point for specialists, oncologists, and primary care providers to coordinate care and make sure that all the survivor’s health needs are met. The plan also includes a schedule of recommended screenings to watch for cancer spread, recurrence, or second cancers, and assessments to monitor medical and psychosocial effects that might pop up later.
The program offers a range of treatment options to help patients feel and function their best. Nutritionists who specialize in cancer recovery help survivors create a healthy diet to regain strength, reach weight goals, manage symptoms, and prevent recurrence. Rehab specialists focus on increasing strength and energy, managing pain, and improving functionality. Other specialists on the team may include cardiology, pulmonology, sexual health and fertility, and more, whose expertise includes an understanding of the specific issues patients may encounter after the cancer treatment process. Throughout the program, mental health plays a big part, too.
“Fear of recurrence is a big thing – ongoing anxiety, especially before their next CT scan or mammogram,” says Wojcik. “Some people feel like they have that constant cloud, especially right after treatment ends. They worry that every little ache or pain or symptom is the cancer coming back, and it gets in the way of enjoying life. We might recommend a support group, one-on-one counseling, medication, or just giving it some time.”
The length of participation in the program depends on each patient’s individual type of cancer and needs, and survivors can join at any time. Health insurance covers most aspects of the program.
“Survivorship starts with diagnosis and goes across the continuum,” says Wojcik. “There’s no one who cannot participate. We usually invite patients to join us once active treatment is done, or their oncologist will recommend us. We also work with people who have metastatic cancer who will continue treatment. You’re welcome to join at any time whether you finished treatment a month ago or five years ago.”
For more information about the Cancer Survivorship program, call (716) 884-3000 or visit the program page on our website.