Robert Singer - Patient Story

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"I liked that they had a collaborative approach at Fox Chase."

— Robert Singer

Now retired, I worked as a dentist in Montgomery County (outside of Philadelphia) and was an assistant clinical professor at University of Pennsylvania for 30 years. I always tried my best to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I kept my weight in check, stayed active, and went for routine visits to my general doctor yearly. From the age of 65, I had annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening blood tests to check for prostate cancer.

In 1998, at the age of 66, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I decided to get a second opinion from a renowned cancer specialist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Still not 100 percent comfortable in the treatment recommendation, I sought the opinion of a third doctor at a hospital in Philadelphia. That doctor recommended a course of radiation, which I completed at another hospital. Once a patient has undergone radiation, the risk for future surgery to remove the prostate is higher.

Although I was satisfied with the treatment plan, when my PSA started to rise in 2008, I went looking for more answers. I called my primary doctor and asked for a referral to a urologist. He recommended Dr. Robert G. Uzzo, chief of surgical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Although it was several years ago, I still remember Dr. Uzzo being kind, capable, and compassionate. 

Dr. Uzzo discussed all the treatment options available to me at that time including postradiation cryotherapy. He referred me to his colleague, Dr. David Y. T. Chen, a urologic oncologist with broad experience in prostate cryotherapy. Dr. Chen recommended cryotherapy as a salvage treatment when radiation has failed. I gave it serious consideration because the alternative was lifelong hormonal treatment, which I had concerns about. Cryotherapy is minimally invasive, and I elected to do it. It turns out it bought me a short reprieve, and when my PSA began to rise again, Dr. Chen referred me to a medical oncologist with Fox Chase.

I was offered several treatment options, one of which was hormone therapy, and I ultimately decided to go with this option. The side effects are minimal, and I have injectable hormones that last months. I had hoped to enroll in a clinical trial, but due to a cardiac issue, I was not a candidate for the trial. I now have some cancer outside the prostate, but it has stayed localized, so I visit Fox Chase every few months for my hormone therapy treatment and for CAT scans and bone scans, which are reviewed by Dr. Daniel M. Geynisman in the Fox Chase Department of Hematology/Oncology.

I’ve experienced minimal side effects from the hormone therapy, and at 85, I’m in good health and grateful to Fox Chase’s doctors and their collaborative team approach. Unfortunately, the cryotherapy left me with some incontinence, so I’m sorry I did it. I was very happy with my doctors, but in retrospect, if I had to do it again, I would not have had the cryotherapy.

I stay fit by playing tennis, biking, and skiing, and I enjoy spending time with my wife, Dalia. We celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2012. We have two children and two grandchildren. We like to travel and keep a very busy schedule. I’m also a certified scuba diver and I’ve done some sailing.

Now retired for about 10 years, I spend my spare time volunteering at the Philadelphia Zoo, at a dental clinic for the working poor once a month, and at a local hospital. I’m still active in my dental society politically.

One message I’d like to get across is that patients have to be compliant yet be their own advocate. You have to find a doctor, a medical team, and a hospital you trust and listen to their recommendations. If you don’t like your doctor, find one you do like. They should be the source of referrals and should be a trusted partner in your health care.

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