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"After a 47-minute surgery, I was cancer-free."

Troy Fite, 49, describes himself as a “goer.” The outside sales representative, husband, father of two, runner, community theater performer and church youth group leader doesn’t slow down often. So when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2013, he immediately sought treatment options.  

Fite’s prostate cancer diagnosis

Fite had no symptoms prior to his diagnosis – even his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) numbers had historically been low.

But Fite says, “A simple blood test saved my life.”

The chance of having prostate cancer goes up as the PSA level increases. And Fite’s physician noticed his PSA level was higher than in previous years.

“A PSA level below 4 ng/ml has traditionally been considered normal,” says Nikhil Shah, D.O., M.P.H. , a urologic oncologist and surgeon at Piedmont Atlanta. “However, having a PSA below 4 ng/ml doesn’t guarantee a man is cancer-free or at low risk. As many as 15 percent of men with levels below 4 ng/ml will show prostate cancer on a biopsy. Mr. Fite’s PSA was 3.3. That is why we look for trends in the PSA over time as well as other factors such as family history, age, overall health and ethnicity, which should be combined with the results of PSA testing and physical examination in order to better determine the risk of prostate cancer.”

“The morning my doctor called to tell me it was cancer, I was in a daze,” remembers Fite. “I drove to my wife’s real estate office and we cried for two hours. We knew we needed to figure out the next step.”

Lexington, S.C.-based Fite sought a second opinion and when he confirmed he would need surgery to treat the disease, he looked for the best surgeon possible. An acquaintance referred him to Dr. Shah. 

Cancer-free in 47 minutes

He and his wife made the trip to Atlanta to meet with Dr. Shah and were immediately confident he was the right surgeon for Fite’s case, despite being hours from Lexington.

“Dr. Shah has performed thousands of minimally-invasive surgeries like mine with the da Vinci robot,” he explains. “In 47 minutes, I was cancer-free. I have four small holes hip to hip and a slightly larger scar at my navel.”

Minimally-invasive surgery allows surgeons to have greater precision, dexterity and control. It also reduces a patient’s recovery time because the procedure is less traumatic to the body.

Fite saw a local physician for pre-testing and credits Dr. Shah’s office for working with him to schedule convenient follow-up appointments. 

“The entire experience was amazing,” he says. “Piedmont made it as convenient as possible.”

His mission to help other men

Fite has long been active with his community’s Relay for Life event, serving as emcee. The year he was diagnosed, his daughter captained a team called “Fite 4 a Cure.”

He says he now talks to almost every man he meets about prostate cancer. He encourages them to see their doctor regularly and get their PSA levels tested.

“I’ve been given so many blessings – I choose to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. God never gives you more than you can take.”

Piedmont is the only healthcare system in Georgia to become an affiliate of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. This collaboration ensures patients receive cancer care based on best practices developed by one of the nation’s leading cancer care providers. Click here to learn more.

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