Letter: Awkward exam not usually painful

Mar. 23, 2014 @ 01:01 AM

To the editor:

I read Benjie Watts' recent column and appreciate his injection of humor into what is, at best, an awkward physical examination and can be, at worst, the prelude to the discovery of prostate concer. Humor is a great trait that often is a blessing to those who possess it and to those to whom it is offered. However, Mr. Watts' use of the phrase "some of the pain you are experiencing" should bear the caveat that most digital rectal exams are not painful; mine were not, and most of the patients in the Proton Therapy Institute where I received radiation treatment reported much the same.

What follows is a simple recounting of my odyssey from diagnosis to treatment of prostate cancer. If the reader has little interest in how matters unfolded in my quest to find a treatment regimen suited to my biopsy report of Gleason 7, 4+3, prostate cancer pathology, then they should stop reading at this juncture. In the beginning, I postponed the biopsy on my prostate for months after it seemed apparent that I should have one. I was a wimp. As it turned out, the biopsy was not painful. My whole point in this recollection is to reassure most men that pain is not an inevitable part of the process.

From the time I had a biopsy in July 2012 until completion of my two months of proton therapy treatments in February 2013, there was never a single moment when I was subjected to even modest amounts of pain. Discomfort, yes; pain, no.

I urge all men to take the necessary steps to ascertain the status of their prostate glands. Prostate cancer is behind only non-melanoma skin cancer and lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer and cancer death in the U.S., according to the website www.uptodate.com, updated Jan. 14. They estimate that in the United States in 2014, 233,000 new prostate cancer diagnoses will be made and 29,500 prostate cancer deaths will occur.

I enjoy Mr. Watts' columns and appreciate his depiction of humorous situations similar to those most of us have experienced. I especially appreciate his affording an opportunity to express concern for those who may forego physical exams for a variety of reasons; unfounded fear of pain should not be one of them.

Leslie Darrell Hines Jr.