Patient Stories

Prostate Cancer Survivor

Earl Angevine


   Earl Angevine, Mount Vernon, Washington
  • Diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 50
  • Surgery at Network member Skagit Valley Hospital
  • Treated in clinical trial at SCCA

Earl Angevine lives by the book, evidence of which can be seen within the historic walls of his Mount Vernon law office. Volumes of bound legal cases line the shelves of a bookcase that stretches the length of the entry hall. Framed autographed photos from famous musicians surround the walls that circle a magnificent hand-crafted conference room table. A copy of “Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer,” by Dr. Patrick Walsh and Janet Farrar Worthington, sits on his desk.

“I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2004 after a routine physical exam,” Earl says. “I’d had a PSA baseline when I was 50 and regular exams every year. There is no history of prostate cancer in my family.”

Earl’s cancer was a slow-growing variety. When diagnosed, his Gleason score was nine. The Gleason score is a grading system used to evaluate prostate cancer cells taken during a biopsy. It is one way doctors determine how aggressive a cancer is. The more aggressive the cancer is, the higher the number. A Gleason score of 7, for example, is considered to be an intermediate-risk cancer. The score tops out at 10.

Hometown treatment
The urologist Earl saw in his home town at Skagit Valley Hospital performed a radical prostatectomy to remove his entire prostate gland and some surrounding tissue. The cancer had spread to the seminal vesicles, but not to his lymph nodes.

“After reading the “bible for urology,” I believed that subsequent treatment was needed to avoid a recurrence,” Earl says. “My urologist didn’t recommend extra treatment even though I had a 50-50 chance of recurrence. ‘Why do it now?’ he asked me.’ If you have a recurrence, then get the additional treatment.’”

At Earl’s request, his primary care physician referred him to another urologist in Seattle who was able to enroll him into a trial that would provide Earl with additional treatment.

“I wanted to stay in the Skagit Valley,” Earl recalls, “and the doctors in Seattle said I had to come to their hospital for treatments during the trial. So I went back to Skagit Valley Hospital and talked to Dr. Robert Raish, a hematologist-oncologist and the medical director of oncology services at Skagit Valley Hospital. He said he could get me enrolled in the same trial but with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.”

Under a special agreement, Skagit Valley Hospital now provides local oncology resources for Skagit County through an affiliation with the SCCA Network.

“Because of this affiliation, I was able to get my treatments at Skagit Valley Hospital, and didn’t have to commute to Seattle after all.”

Leading-edge research 
The Southwest Oncology Group trial that Earl enrolled in was SWOG 9921, a randomized trial of adjuvant hormone therapy versus adjuvant hormone therapy plus chemotherapy in prostate cancer. A patient randomized to hormone therapy alone would receive no chemotherapy. Earl’s treatment began with six and a half weeks of radiation therapy, five days a week and hormone therapy every three months over two years.

“We’re very fortunate to have chosen to live in the Skagit Valley,” Earl says. “Our children and grandchildren are here. It’s paradise. When I got cancer, I knew that excellent care was available in Seattle, but was delighted to find out that the same care was available here because of the affiliation Skagit Valley Hospital has with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.”