Prostate Cancer Alternative

Brachytherapy offers non-surgical alternative for prostate cancer

When Jack Glasscock learned he had prostate cancer, he did what a lot of people do: he scheduled surgery. “I just wanted it out of me,” recalls the 54-year-old from Annandale. “I figured surgery would be the best possible option.”

Glasscock never got to the operating room. Instead, he met with Matthew Poggi, MD, Medical Director of the Inova Joseph Viar Jr. and Bonnie Christ Cancer Center – Alexandria, who suggested a  non-surgical alternative: brachytherapy.

Brachytherapy is a type of radiation treatment in which radioactive seeds are implanted directly into the prostate gland to kill cancer cells. It allows for a higher dose of radiation in a shorter period of time over conventional external beam therapy. The radiation is concentrated onto the cancer cells, and there is less damage to surrounding healthy tissues with fewer long-term side effects. Inova Alexandria Hospital was the first hospital in Northern Virginia to perform brachytherapy and is now the area’s largest provider of radioactive seed implants for prostate cancer.

Glasscock was initially skeptical. But after discussing it with Dr. Poggi, he decided it was the right treatment for him. “Dr. Poggi  really took the time to explain the advantages and answer all of my questions. Ultimately, he made me feel totally comfortable and I cancelled my surgery,” he says.

Glasscock’s therapy began with a dose of targeted external radiation at the Inova Joseph Viar Jr. and Bonnie Christ Cancer Center – Alexandria. A short time later, Dr. Poggi used imaging guidance to implant 92 radioactive seeds throughout his prostate and took an X-ray to confirm they were positioned properly. When Glasscock returned for his first PSA test six months later, his PSA had dropped by  50 percent. It continued to fall and is now well within the normal range for his age group.

“We understand that one size cancer treatment does not fit all and that every patient requires a unique and personal approach to care,” Dr. Poggi says. “Jack was a good candidate for brachytherapy. Other patients may benefit from a different approach. We offer a full complement of cancer services including surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and we tailor treatment to each individual.”

Glasscock experienced very few side effects and has returned to all the activities he loves, including regular running, Tae Bo and taking care of his yard. He feels extremely lucky to have such great cancer resources so close to home. It meant less stress and disruption to his daily life.

“When you get a cancer diagnosis, you do all you can to search out the best place possible for the best care possible,” he says. “To find this locally meant a lot. Dr. Poggi and everyone at the Cancer Center made everything easy and comforting. It was nothing but a positive experience.”

Learn more
Learn more about prostate cancer treatments at Inova Alexandria Hospital by calling 703.504.7900.