CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Charles Wilson was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer nearly a year ago. "The 'C' word of cancer always scares people," he says.
Charles underwent Cyberknife robotic radiosurgery. "It has the ability to focally apply radiation beams to the prostate to kill prostate cancer in as few as five treatments over the course of a week and a half," says , Erlanger's Dr. Frank Kimsey, a radio oncologist
But that treatment option could be in jeopardy for more than 2.4 million men in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. The local Medicare provider for this region is considering doing away with coverage starting next year.
ZEROcancer.org sent a letter to local medicare provider Cahaba that reads in part, "By denying SBRT as a treatment option Cahaba Government Benefit Administrators is limiting the availability of a potential life saving treatment to patients who may not be candidates for other types of interventions."
"We should be able to offer them an alternative that has lower complications and has a high opportunity to cure their cancer, " says Dr. Frank Kimsey.
"If I hadn't had this option, I would have had to have had 40 treatments of radiation," Charles Wilson says.
Treatment that would have lasted 7 to 8 weeks as opposed to a week and a half.
Dr. Kimsey says the Cyberknife is the only unit of its kind that can treat from three different dimensions. And for patients it greatly reduces the side effects, possible complications, and costs.
"That means we are able to come in from about 150 different directions with a beam of radiation," noted Dr. Frank Kimsey.
And the Cyberknife can make adjustments for any movement of the prostate during treatment in real time.
For those with advanced stages of prostate cancer, the Cyberknife is not an option, surgery if often needed. But when discovered early and treated with this technology, a recent study showed the five year survival rate is 96 percent.
As for Charles he's just thankful his cancer was discovered early, and glad he had the cyberknife as a treatment option. "I'm just thankful to the Lord I'm able to keep going like I was before."
For Charles that means more time with family and doing the things he enjoys.
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