The Gleason Score

I found out on Wednesday March 24 that I have Stage 1 Prostate Cancer. Before you get too horrified, my prognosis is very very good. The cure rate for this is pretty much 100%. This was found very very early.

Without getting too graphic, because I myself am somewhat squeamish, let's say I noticed something not right when I was in California in mid February on a business trip. I went to my doctor after getting home, who sent me to a urologist. He checked my prostate and ordered some blood work to check my PSA count. He didn't like either result, so he ordered a biopsy. Then he called me the day before I was supposed to call for the results and told me one of the 12 areas had cancer.

Janice and I met with my urologist on March 31. I am solidly in Stage 1. The cancer can't be felt by examination and was in only one of the 12 areas tested. My Gleason Score was a 6 out of 10 (theoretically the lowest you can get is a 2 but per my urologist the lowest score is 6). So to have it in only one area and a Gleason Score of 6 is the best place to be if you have prostate cancer.

I'm glad I did the right thing by going to the doctor; I don't like to do that too much during busy season. My primary care doctor, knowing my father has prostate cancer, did the right thing by sending me to the same urologist who treats my father (and is considered one of the best in Detroit). My urologist did the right thing by being cautious given family history and doing the things he did. He said it really is a fluke that this was caught now.

The recommended treatment for someone my age at Stage 1 and a Gleason Score of 6 is surgery to remove the prostate. My surgery is scheduled for Tuesday April 27. It will be done using laparoscopic surgery which means a much quicker recovery and less scars. My urologist and his partner have done this procedure in excess of 1,500 times, so I'm pretty comfortable they know what they are doing.

I don't expect to do any work the week of surgery other than replying to email and only if I'm up to it. I'll be hospitalized overnight at Providence in Southfield (Steve LeVine suggested I tip them $20 to get a room with a view of Northland), and 70% of patients go home the next day. By the following week I expect to be able to work a few hours a day from home. My office is only 5 1/2 miles from home, so it is easy to get stuff back and forth. With our computer network I can work pretty much as effectively from home as I can from the office. My partner Ron Silberstein and our fabulous staff will pitch in to make sure everything is handled.

I'm not thrilled or honored to be in this position. I'm trying to follow the example set by my mother z"l when she found out she had peritoneal mesothelioma, which was a death sentence. I think she said something like "it is what it is." That's how I'm trying to think about this - it is what it is. My diagnosis is not a death sentence. For me this will be cancer and cure and I'm thankful for that.

I'm sure there will be people wondering why I wrote this or chose to announce it here. Maybe from writing this someone will get themselves checked, or they will encourage someone they know to get checked. That will be reason enough for me.

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Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies. Joel writes observations on different matters and especially on working with and using LinkedIn. He thinks he has a sense of humor.

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