Lee Bentz: Back on the Tractor After NanoKnife Focal Therapy for Prostate Cancer

“From the moment we arrived at Fox Chase to the moment we left, we had a very positive experience.”
‐Lee Bentz

I was treated for prostate cancer in 2016, getting radiation therapy near where I live in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It worked for a while, but not long enough, because in 2022 my PSA level started going up again.

My dad had prostate cancer in his late 80s, and they said he could leave it, because at his age, it wouldn’t be the thing that killed him. I asked my urologist if I could do the same thing, because I was 81 at the time, but he said my cancer was more aggressive and that we should get ahead of it. He gave me a few options, and I chose cryotherapy, which is used to freeze and kill cancer. Then he referred me to Dr. David Chen, a urologic oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

To be honest I wasn’t thrilled. We live about three hours away, and I avoid Philadelphia because it seems like nobody obeys the traffic rules there! But I decided to give it a try.

Trying a Targeted Approach

When I met with Dr. Chen he explained that cryotherapy could do the job, but we couldn’t limit it to the exact area of the cancer because it might freeze some of the healthy tissue nearby. I’d had a PET scan that showed the cancer hadn’t spread and was still contained in a very small area.

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to make another proposal,” Dr. Chen said. He suggested NanoKnife ablation, which is a form of focal therapy. This procedure involves placing tiny electrodes around the cancer to create a kind of fence, and then zapping the fenced-off area with electricity to destroy the tissue. Only the targeted area is destroyed.

“We’ve just started a clinical trial for this in the prostate, where we’ve never done it before, but we have had success with the liver and the pancreas,” Dr. Chen told me.

“I’m all for keeping it as targeted as possible,” I said, “so if you’re confident that it will work, let’s do it.”

Long Day, Good Result

My wife and I woke up around 2 a.m. on the day of surgery to make the drive down the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Fox Chase.

My biggest fear was the IV — I have very small veins, and they’re hard to find. But the nurse got it in okay, and everything after that was a piece of cake.

Dr. Chen came in to talk to us, and then they took me into surgery. To be honest I don’t really remember anything after that until I woke up. The surgery went well, and we left Fox Chase at 3 p.m. to make the drive home.

It was a long day, but we didn’t care. It worked, and it was worth it.

I didn’t have any pain or discomfort after surgery. Recovery was easy. The one thing I didn’t like was having a catheter in for a few days, although once you get used to it it’s not that bad.

The day after surgery, I was having bladder spasms, which concerned me. I couldn’t control the rate of urination, and sometimes it went faster than the catheter could handle. We called Fox Chase and they called in a prescription to our local pharmacy within the hour. I think I took the medication one time and never had a problem after that. After a few days the catheter was removed by my local urologist.

Lee Bentz back to work on the farm.

Back to Work on the Farm

Since the surgery, I’ve been busy working on my farm. I’m retired from the Department of Agriculture, but I’m a frustrated farmer. We own 28 acres and raise cattle that we sell as freezer beef. We also grow hay, corn, and other small grains, and I collect tractors that I use around the farm. Right now I have seven full-sized farm tractors and four garden tractors.

My wife and I are also active in our church, and we love spending time with our great-grandkids.

The best news is that every blood test I’ve had since the surgery has shown that my PSA levels are fine.

We’re very grateful to Fox Chase. Dr. Chen couldn’t have been nicer — every time we met with him by video conference, he took a long time with us and made sure he answered all our questions. The whole outfit is like that: everybody helps everybody.

From the moment we arrived at Fox Chase to the moment we left, we had a very positive experience.

Learn more about treatment for prostate cancer at Fox Chase Cancer Center.