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New treatments provide hope to stage 4 cancer patients

PLUM, Pa. — Chances are, you know someone who has battled cancer, some may have even faced stage 4 cancer.

It's a tough journey, but now a local man and his doctor at UPMC are spreading a message of hope.

Sitting on his back porch in Plum, Bob Parker told WPXI Morning News anchor Katherine Amenta he still remembers the day in 2015 well.

Christmas was right around the corner and his doctor told him he had stage 4 cancer.

“I still get emotional, we cried about it.” Parker said.

A man's PSA level, which can be a warning sign of prostate cancer, is supposed to be under 4. Parker learned his number was 84.  Then his oncologist, Dr. Rajesh Sehgal, at UPMC East said something else.  He said "We can fight this," and that is something patients did not hear a few years ago.

“Today we have Plan A and 5 years ago, we didn't have B, C, D and E.  The staff said this is not a sentence of death today,” Parker said.

Three years later, Parker is in remission and is sharing his story of hope.


Sehgal said so much progress has been made with stage 4 cancers.

For example, if the stage 4 cancer is limited to certain organs and the number lesions are limited, Sehgal says they can work toward a cure.  It applies to several cancers, including prostate, lymphoma and colon.

“Maybe 1 in 4 of those stage 4 colon cancers we can cure.  It is still 1 in 4, we want to be 4 out of 4,” Sehgal said.

It's thanks to new treatments, better ways to manage infection, and prevent side-effects like hair loss and nausea.

“The goal is not just to make them live longer, the goal is for them to be living their lives,” Seghal said.

Parker is a living example of that, during chemotherapy, he built a deck on the back of his home.

“You could just like you said, sit and watch television and feel sorry for yourself. Or, you can move on with life,” Parker said.