Siteman helps patient fight prostate and bladder cancer

St. Louis native Charles Watkins wasn’t feeling any different than normal when he went in for a regular checkup in October 2010, but the trip may have saved his life.

During the visit, Watkins’ primary care physician discovered his prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, had jumped two points. Watkins, it was determined, had prostate cancer. His physician recommended he make an appointment with Arnold Bullock, MD, a urologist at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

Bullock ordered tests and discovered that Watkins not only had advanced prostate cancer but also bladder cancer. Watkins says that due to the aggressiveness of the prostate cancer, Bullock recommended surgery to remove the entire prostate gland.Charles Watkins

“I told him I heard so many bad stories about surgery,” Watkins says. “He assured me he could perform the surgery with minimal side effects. But I didn’t want to have mine removed.”

So Bullock referred Watkins to his colleague Bruce Roth, MD, a medical oncologist at Siteman who specializes in prostate, bladder, kidney and testicular cancer. Roth recommended treating the prostate cancer with hormone therapy and attacking the bladder cancer with chemotherapy.

Watkins received his first chemotherapy treatment in December 2010. Already fighting two cancers, he developed life-threatening sepsis and multiorgan failure. His condition deteriorated quickly, putting him in a desperate fight for his life and landing him in intensive care at Barnes-Jewish.

“I stayed for six weeks. Thank God I survived that,” Watkins says. “It was due to the good care of the folks in the intensive-care unit.”

With chemotherapy no longer an option, Watkins’ doctors decided to treat his bladder cancer with radiation therapy and move forward with hormone therapy for his prostate cancer. Two years later, those and other treatments have kept his cancer under control.

Today, Watkins focuses on his watch business and regularly visits Siteman’s new outpatient location in south St. Louis County for monitoring and treatment to maintain the integrity of his bones, which can be weakened by hormone therapy.

Roth says he is doing remarkably well.

“My hope is that science will catch up with me and hopefully pass me,” Watkins says. “Every year something more effective comes along to treat the kinds of cancers I’m dealing with. So that keeps me positive.”

Visit the Siteman website to learn more about prostate cancer treatment and bladder cancer treatment.

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Category: Siteman Cancer Center

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The Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital & Washington University School of Medicine is the only cancer center in Missouri to hold the prestigious Comprehensive Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute and membership in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Siteman offers the expertise of more than 350 Washington University research scientists and physicians who provide care for more than 8,000 newly diagnosed patients each year at a main campus in St. Louis and satellite centers in west St. Louis County, St. Charles County and south St. Louis County.

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