Cancer survivor a believer in proton therapy

Photo SubmittedMike Kastl says the book “You Can Beat Prostate Cancer” convinced him in 2009 to undergo proton therapy.

Mike Kastl wants to spread the word that men can survive prostate cancer.

Kastl had his yearly physical in 2009 when his PSA prostate test determined he likely had prostate cancer. His urologist confirmed the diagnosis, but it had not metastasized, Kastl said.

Kastl opted not to have a conventional surgical procedure or radiation. His choice was a noninvasive procedure at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City. He was the first prostate patient to undergo treatment at the center that opened seven years ago. Proton therapy worked for Kastl without damaging surrounding tissue, he said.

The American Cancer Society estimates that of the 1.6 million new cancer cases that will be diagnosed in 2016, nearly 20,000 of those will be Oklahomans. February was National Cancer Prevention Month, and ProCure Proton Therapy Center encouraged all Oklahomans to guard their health by familiarizing themselves with the risks, symptoms and appropriate screenings surrounding cancer.

Kastl got online and discovered a book titled “You Can Beat Prostate Cancer” by Robert Marckini and was encouraged to know about the benefits of proton therapy.

“I started in August (2009) and brought my Alan Jackson tape and Brooks & Dunn tape,” Kastl said. “They play music while you’re treated. It took me longer to get my clothes off and on than it did laying on the table.”

He said a beam was shot into his hip and changed to the other hip every other day for 44 treatments. He felt nothing, Kastl said. Now Kastl shares his success stories with other patients at ProCure.

“I’m a proton preacher. I believe in it,” Kastl said. “It’s the real deal. They’ve been super good and highly professional.”

Dr. Gary Larson, ProCure medical director, said there are several everyday efforts, simple screenings and tests that can help with early diagnosis and prevention.

In observance of National Cancer Prevention Month, ProCure is offering the following information on common tumor types to help you stay informed:

Breast cancer

Keep a healthy diet and lifestyle. Although there is no sure way to prevent cancer, body weight, physical activity and diet have all been linked to breast cancer. Making healthy food choices with a focus on plant-based foods, as well as staying active, are proven ways to lower your chance of diagnosis.

Screen yourself regularly. Early diagnosis can help increase the chances of beating breast cancer if it is found. The best way to catch breast cancer early is to self-check routinely, and women from 45-50 are advised to get a mammogram and clinical breast exam annually. Lumps or hard knots inside the breast or underarm area are among the most common symptoms. Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of skin are less common but important warning signs as well.

Prostate cancer

Men over 50 should discuss regular screenings with their doctor. For men at higher risk, these conversations should take place at age 40 or 45. Regular screenings and monitoring the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) are among the most effective ways to detect prostate cancer in a curable stage.

Obesity and poor diet can increase the risk of diagnosis. Studies have found that obese men are more likely to be diagnosed with a more aggressive form of prostate cancer than men at a healthy weight. The best diet and activity recommendations for reducing the risk of prostate cancer are to eat at least 2 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables each day, be physically active and maintain a healthy weight.

Lung cancer

Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer and causes the most cancer deaths for both men and women. Smoking is the leading risk factor by far, estimated to be the cause of 80 percent of cancer deaths. Secondhand smoke is also thought to be the cause of more than 7,000 deaths annually.

There are risk factors outside your control. In addition to smoking, other risk factors include family history, age, gender and ethnic background. It is important to be familiar with the risks and keep an ongoing, open dialogue with your physician to monitor your health and map out a care plan that is right for you.