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Prostate Cancer Survivor Beats Head and Neck Cancer with Team Approach

August 13, 2019

When you've been a banker for 40-plus years like Jeffrey Jernigan, you pay attention to the numbers. So after a physical in 2005, when Jeff learned his prostate-specific antigen numbers were elevated, he followed his doctor's recommendations to try antibiotics.

When his PSA numbers had not dropped several weeks later, Jeff had a biopsy. It revealed aggressive prostate cancer. He received radiation and hormone therapy at a Kansas City hospital and was in remission by the fall. But the cancer recurred in 2008 and had metastasized.

A team approach

Jeff's wife, Cheryl, a 19-year breast cancer survivor, urged him to seek treatment at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. There, Jernigan saw urologist Jeffrey Holzbeierlein, MD, and a team of oncology professionals.

"Jeff had an unusually aggressive form of prostate cancer that required a multidisciplinary approach from experts in urologic oncology, medical oncology and radiation oncology," Dr. Holzbeierlein explains. "The team model is one of the benefits of The University of Kansas Cancer Center."

The cancer center team prescribed oral medications, which Jeffrey takes daily to control tumor growth. As part of his follow-up care, he sees Dr. Holzbeierlein monthly.

"I'm pleased with the responsiveness of the cancer center team," Jeff says. "The medications limit my side effects and are effective in keeping the prostate cancer at bay."

Another cancer scare

However, in 2011 Jeff felt something in the back of his throat. He returned to the cancer center to have it checked out and learned he had tonsil cancer caused by human papillomavirus.

Terance Tsue, MD, head and neck cancer expert, treated Jeff's cancer with radiation and chemotherapy. Dr. Tsue continues to see Jeff every 6 months as part of his follow-up care.

About 33,200 HPV-associated cancers occur in the United States each year. Cervical cancer is the most common HPV-associated cancer in women. Cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils, are most common among men.

Today, Jeff is enjoying retirement. "My care team at the cancer center has been with me every step of the way," he says. "They've kept me healthy enough to take up weightlifting and spend many hours a week chasing after a golf ball."

As with all treatments, individual patient results vary. It is important to discuss your treatment options with your healthcare provider.

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