Harvard Perspectives on Prostate Disease

Technology and decision-making: A patient's story

Jim and Terri Rogers* are no strangers to medicine. Jim is a retired general and thoracic surgeon, and his wife, Terri, a retired operating room nurse. They have each spent more than 30 years working in hospitals and caring for patients. But that didn't make dealing with Jim's prostate cancer diagnosis much easier. Like most people confronted with the disease, they consulted multiple experts and went back and forth about the best treatment. Would robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy or radiation therapy be most effective?

*Editor's note: The couple's names have been changed to preserve their privacy. All medical details are as they reported them.

To help make the decision, the couple flew from their home on the West Coast to Boston so that Jim could undergo an endorectal MRI, which wasn't offered in his area. In some cases, advanced testing yields little concrete information, making it nothing more than technology for technology's sake. But for Jim, endorectal MRI helped pinpoint the location and likely extent of his tumor, ultimately showing him which path to choose.

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