Jim Roberts - Patient Story

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"I wish I came to Fox Chase when I was first diagnosed with cancer."

— Jim Roberts

Jim Roberts believes he could have had a less stressful experience when faced with a cancer diagnosis if he would have started his treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center. At the age of 61, in 2001, Jim’s PSA levels (prostate-specific antigen) were elevated, which raised concern. PSA levels may indicate a man’s risk of having or developing prostate cancer. A biopsy proved negative so Jim’s doctors continued to monitor his health. Later that year, his PSA levels more than tripled, which required further testing and another biopsy. Given how rapidly his PSA rose and some other findings, a local physician at the time believed he likely had metastatic disease and started him on a therapy for advanced prostate cancer.

Within that six-month period, Jim was being treated for an unrelated issue at a community hospital near his home in Bucks County, PA. “I expressed my concern about my PSA levels and thought since I was already admitted to the hospital, they could explore and see what was going on,” Jim explains.

After a diagnostic scan, Jim was told that an indeterminant mass was detected. Armed with this information, Jim sought the opinion of a specialist in Center City, Philadelphia. “The doctor completed several rounds of testing and informed me I had Stage 4 prostate cancer,” shares Jim, who was completely shocked. “They referred me to a radiation oncologist and explained that my prognosis wasn’t favorable.”

“Dr. Uzzo’s dedication and diligence was life-saving.”

In March, 2003, Jim finally decided it was time to go to Fox Chase Cancer Center. He made an appointment with Robert G. Uzzo, MD, FACS, chair of surgical oncologist at Fox Chase. After thorough evaluation of Jim’s medical records and tests, Dr. Uzzo concluded that Jim’s PSA test had been misinterpreted and was falsely elevated due to numerous biopsies and infections.  While he did have prostate cancer, it was localized, not metastatic.  “Dr. Uzzo’s dedication and diligence was life-saving,” admits Jim. “Fox Chase has a stellar reputation which is due to the cancer focus of the physicians.”

Dr. Uzzo referred Jim to a radiation oncologist at Fox Chase, where he began an 8-week course of high intensity modular radiation therapy. “Dr. Uzzo is very kind and competent and took immediate charge of my treatment plan,” explains Jim. “He said my case was a bit of an anomaly and suggested we wait and watch before having immediate treatment.  I trusted him and I knew I was in good hands.”

In 2006, Jim was receiving care at a major cancer center in New York City where he underwent another prostate biopsy due to a PSA bounce.  This noted significant radiation changes. “In New York they told me I likely had a recurrence of prostate cancer” shares Jim, who went right back to Dr. Uzzo for a second opinion.

According to Dr. Uzzo, the PSA was elevated due to an inflammation – not cancer. He continues to be followed at Fox Chase, where he has been free of cancer and off all treatment since 2002.

“The bottom line is that excellence in cancer care requires dedication and diligent expertise – qualities that all of our physicians consistently demonstrate,” explains Dr. Uzzo. “Mr Roberts went through two unfortunate scares – once when he was told his cancer was metastatic and again when he was told it was recurrent.  In both instances, we were able to solve the puzzle and prove beyond doubt that this was not the case.”

In 2015, Jim marked 10 years since his diagnosis. He has never needed surgery and has been followed by Dr. Uzzo for diagnostic tests, blood work and imaging. “Since my first visit to Fox Chase, Dr. Uzzo has been with me every step of the way. I am so fortunate that I have remained in good health this entire time,” Jim shares. “Dr. Uzzo is a terrific doctor and person.”

“To think I was told 10 years ago that I had Stage 4 cancer and for ten years I have been feeling well –that is something I want to share.  I wish I had started with Fox Chase. I would have saved myself a lot of stress and worry.”

A retired pre-employment testing executive, Jim and his wife, Marie, celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2015. They enjoy spending time with their grandchildren, all of whom live nearby.

“By sharing my story, I may be able to encourage other patients to go to Fox Chase first,” explains Jim. “If I can save someone the worry and grief I experienced, it would mean a lot to me.”

“I would recommend Dr. Uzzo to anyone.”

“I would recommend Dr. Uzzo to anyone,” adds Jim. “He’s a nice guy. When we sit down during the appointment he speaks to me about what’s going on in my life, not just about my health.  It makes me feel like he cares about me as a whole person. That’s a rare quality in doctors these days.”

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