At the age of 49, Dennis Null of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, knew he had not been getting an annual physical like he should, so he made an appointment with his family physician. During his physical, he took a simple blood test that included a test for PSA, prostate specific antigen, which would let his doctor know about his prostate health. Dennis was in good health.
Unfortunately the good news didn’t last for Dennis. Two annual physicals later, he received word that his PSA levels had risen significantly and that a biopsy needed to be performed to determine if he had prostate cancer.
In December 2009, Dennis found out that his prostate biopsy was positive for cancer.
“I tried to remain optimistic for my children,” Dennis, father of three, said. Although he remained positive, he wanted to be prepared. With the help of his urologist he began researching prostate cancer and its current treatments.
“I was concerned,” Dennis said. “But I had done my homework. I knew that new treatments for prostate cancer were available at Chambersburg Hospital.”
Dennis decided that surgical removal of his prostate was the right treatment for him. He had read about leading-edge robotic surgery that was available in larger academic centers. He was happy to hear that this technology was soon going to be available in Chambersburg.
Chambersburg Hospital began using the daVinci Si Robotic surgical system in February 2010.
Dennis was no stranger to the field of robotics. As an engineer for 32 years, he has been involved in researching, purchasing, designing and building robotic equipment for the packaging of goods and materials.
“I wasn’t scared of the technology,” Dennis noted. “I know how robotic technology works, and I knew that the surgeon would be performing the surgery and not the robot itself. I was comfortable with the equipment and with Dr. Kambiz Tajkarimi’s experience.”
Dr. Tajkarimi of Urology Associates of Chambersburg performed Dennis’s surgery on February 24, 2010. Following an overnight stay in the hospital, Dennis was sent home to recover. “I was only away from work for two and a half weeks,” Dennis said. “And, I’m still doing well.”
According to Dennis, the pathology report that was sent to his doctor following the removal of his prostate showed that all of the cancerous tissue was contained inside the prostate and that the surrounding tissue was cancer-free.
Three months following Dennis’s surgery he had another PSA test, and the results were excellent. “It couldn’t have worked out better for me,” Dennis said. “I didn’t need any other treatment for the cancer.”
Dennis has words of advice for other men who are reluctant to have yearly physicals. “You need to know your PSA numbers,” Dennis urged. “It’s simple blood work, and there is no reason that you shouldn’t have this checked. I had no history of prostate cancer in my family, but it still happened to me. Please, talk to your doctor. No man should die from this.”