Don’s Story: Navigating Prostate Cancer Treatment

When Don Tate’s prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test results came back borderline high, his primary physician recommended that he see a urologist to determine if he had developed prostate cancer, which approximately 13% of all American males will be diagnosed with during their lifetimes.

His diagnosis in 2021 at age 63 began an often confusing medical odyssey for the IT specialist who lives in Dallas.

Don received contradictory advice over the past three years involving almost all aspects of his prostate cancer – from the tools used to detect the disease to his treatment options to whether his Gleason score (a traditional way of measuring prostate cancer) even indicated that treatment was necessary.

There has been one aspect about his cancer, however, that he’s absolutely clear on: if and when he pursues a course of treatment, it will not be Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy. The reason he is certain about this is because he had MiraDX’s PROSTOX™ test.

PROSTOX analyzes a patient’s DNA to determine if they are genetically at higher risk of genitourinary (GU) toxicity following SBRT radiation therapy, which can result in urinary retention, pain, increased urinary frequency, and bleeding.

Getting the test and finding out that he is at higher risk for SBRT complications has been part of Don’s efforts to educate himself so he can navigate the options available to him.

His first experiences with doctors concerning his prostate cancer were not positive, he said.

First, there was the urologist Don initially saw, who insisted on multiple needle biopsies without the benefit of an MRI, resulting in Don having to endure the extraction of 15 tissue core samples. (Don later found out that MRIs are actually recommended, so that doctors can perform more targeted biopsies requiring fewer samples.)

That same doctor also insisted immediate surgery was necessary.

“I didn’t understand why I was being rushed,” Don said, particularly since only two of the 15 tissue cores showed cellular abnormality and his Gleason score was a 3+3, the least aggressive of prostate cancer scores.

By this time Don had decided to seek out other medical experts and joined online groups to better educate himself about his condition. This led him to the Prostate Cancer Research Institute, which recommended a prostate oncologist in Los Angeles and suggested Don find out if he was at risk of late GU toxicity.

He reached out to MiraDX and asked about the PROSTOX test.

“It was super easy,” he said. “I emailed them, they sent me the kit in the mail. I did the saliva swab, mailed it back and a few days later I heard from them.”

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It was Dr. Joanne Weidhaas, the founder of MiraKind, who called Don back with his results.

Dr. Weidhaas is a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and head of translational research in the Department of Radiation Oncology. She also is the founder of MiraKind, a nonprofit with a mission of educating individuals about the KRAS-variant and understanding this class of genetic biomarkers, particularly their association with increased risk of lung, ovarian, and triple negative breast cancer.

Dr. Weidhaas let Don know his PROSTOX test results indicated he was at increased risk for long-term side effects from SBRT that could start six months or longer after treatment.

“She’s fantastic, I’d recommend her to anyone,” Don said. “I know she mainly does work concerning breast cancer, but I’m so glad she started doing this work on prostate cancer.”

Don’s been advised by his prostate oncologist that he can wait to make any treatment decisions, as his cancer is slow-growing and has not changed much in the past several months. He’ll have another PSA in May and another MRI in August and then consult again with his doctor.

“It’s worth it to avoid having a treatment that could cause side effects for the rest of your life,” he said.


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Any discussion of medical management options on this website is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute a medical recommendation. All medical management decisions should be made based on consultation between each patient and his or her healthcare professional.

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