Eatontown Man Turns to Riverview Colleagues During Cancer Treatment

Anthony Leanza

August 18, 2021

Working in valet services at Riverview Medical Center over the past 12 years has transformed Anthony Leanza’s fellow team members into trusted colleagues and friends. So when Anthony was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019, he knew undergoing radiation treatment at Riverview’s Cancer Center would be the best fit for him—body and soul.

Anthony, then 67, had chalked-up his slowed urination to age-related changes to his prostate. But a routine checkup with his primary care doctor revealed elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood levels, which can signal cancer but also benign enlargement or inflammation of the gland.

The Eatontown, New Jersey, man’s first stop was Riverview urologist Robert P. Bonitz, M.D., who came highly recommended by Anthony’s co-workers. Suspecting a possible prostate infection felt on exam, Anthony was prescribed antibiotics. But when the antibiotics didn’t lower his PSA levels, Dr. Bonitz performed a needle biopsy that showed cancerous cells in 14 of 17 sampled areas.

Surgery or radiation were both possible treatments for his case, which hadn’t spread beyond the prostate. But Anthony was immediately drawn to CyberKnife radiation, a trusted option performed at Riverview by radiation oncologist Priti Patel, M.D.

“Once I walked through the doors of the Cancer Center for my CyberKnife treatment, the professionalism couldn’t be beat,” Anthony recalls. “I know these people—they’re my friends. But when I watched them do their jobs, I was so impressed by every single one.”

Standout Treatment

Also known as stereotactic radiosurgery, CyberKnife treatment uses a robotic arm to deliver high-intensity radiation beams to prostate tumor cells while avoiding damage to healthy tissue in the nearby bladder and rectum. The five-day treatment also requires far fewer sessions than traditional radiation.

“Some people don’t want surgery, which is why radiation is a great alternative,” Dr. Patel explains. “With CyberKnife, there’s no cutting and no anesthesia.” The treatment is performed on an outpatient basis, and there are no restrictions on patients while they’re undergoing it, she adds.

One of CyberKnife’s notable strengths is its use of robotic technology to precisely guide radiation beams to malignant areas while adjusting for patients’ body movements, such as breathing. Metallic seeds or markers are implanted in tumors before treatment to facilitate this. Anthony had four such markers placed in his prostate.

“Anthony had very little if any toxicity [from CyberKnife],” Dr. Bonitz says. “The combination of treatments—not just the radiation itself but the insertion of metallic markers and a biodegradable gel to push away critical organs—all help make the whole experience go better for our patients.”

Personalized Care

Indeed, while side effects such as fatigue and increased urination are common with CyberKnife, Anthony sailed through treatment without any ill effects and maintained his work schedule.

Three months after his treatment ended, blood tests revealed normal PSA levels, which dropped further over following months. Now tested regularly, his PSA levels remain near zero.

“The cancer is gone, and life is good,” says the father of a grown daughter, who enjoys the nearby Atlantic Ocean while walking the boardwalk with wife, Vicki. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Anthony’s positive outcome is typical for most prostate cancer patients treated at Riverview, Drs. Patel and Bonitz note, stressing how important it is for local residents to be aware of Riverview’s advanced cancer treatment options.

“Even though Dr. Patel runs one of the top programs in the area for CyberKnife treatment, many community members may not know we offer it,” Dr. Bonitz says. “But patients don’t have to go far—it’s care in their own backyard.”

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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