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Vigilance Key in Prostate Cancer Victory

Primary care doctor, surgeon guide Wescosville man through health crisis

A great partnership with his primary care doctor and urologic surgical expertise at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) combined to help Bob McKinney catch his prostate cancer in time and make a full recovery.

“I don’t think there’s a better doctor out there,” McKinney, 70, says of his primary care doctor, Stacey Smith, MD, Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine at LVHN. “Because he [Dr. Smith] prepared me well, when I heard the word cancer, I wasn’t afraid. Prostate cancer is one of the most curable cancers there is.”

Warning sign

An account executive for an area publishing company, McKinney, of Wescosville, says the first sign of potential trouble came a few years ago when his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level increased but was still under what’s traditionally considered normal (4.0 nanograms per  milliliter, or ng/ml). Since each patient is unique, it’s possible for those with PSA levels under four to have prostate cancer and for those above four to be cancer free.

PSA is produced by both normal and malignant prostate gland cells. Levels can rise for reasons other than prostate cancer, including benign prostate enlargement, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Did you know?

Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer don’t die from it, the American Cancer Society says. More than 3.3 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.

The decision was made to continue to monitor McKinney’s prostate and PSA levels. “When you get to my age, you’re watching for prostate problems,” McKinney says.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. The ACS says each man’s risk of prostate cancer can vary, based on his age, race/ethnicity and other factors. Prostate cancer is more likely to develop in older men, the ACS says, with about six in 10 prostate cancers being diagnosed in men who are 65 or older.

Cancer detected

In November 2022 during a full physical, McKinney says, Dr. Smith detected a nodule on his prostate and advised him to consult a specialist. In early January 2023, he met with physician assistant Mark Voyack with LVPG Urology–1250 Cedar Crest. A subsequent MRI-guided biopsy confirmed the presence of cancer and McKinney opted for surgery over radiation. The entire prostate was removed in a procedure called a prostatectomy.

“I asked Mark, ‘If you were me, what would you do?’” McKinney recalls. “He said he would have the surgery. I decided I would rather get it all out at once.”

“We do so many of these operations we can get people through a surgery and get them back to their normal selves fairly quickly. A lot of people think they are going to be permanently changed, but our experience shows otherwise.” – Angelo Baccala, MD

McKinney said he was also encouraged to have surgery because of a friend who successfully underwent the procedure four years ago. “He was a great coach and encouragement to me,” McKinney says.

Angelo Baccala, MD, Deputy Physician in Chief, Innovation and Program Development and urologist with Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence, performed McKinney’s minimally invasive, robotic-assisted prostate surgery in early May 2023. McKinney stayed overnight in the hospital and went home the next day.

“He [Dr. Baccala] came very highly recommended. He’s great,” McKinney says. “You feel like you can share anything with him. I have a profound love and respect for everyone at the hospital. They are accommodating and caring. I can’t say enough about them.”

Dr. Baccala says prior to surgery, genetic testing of the biopsy samples showed the cancer had an intermediate risk of growing and spreading to other parts of McKinney’s body. Subsequent testing, including a bone scan, showed the cancer had not spread beyond McKinney’s prostate.

On the mend

McKinney’s PSA level is now zero and he says he’s doing well with no side effects.

“A lot of people are scared of prostate surgery because they are concerned about side effects,” Dr. Baccala says. “We do so many of these operations we can get people through a surgery and get them back to their normal selves fairly quickly. A lot of people think they are going to be permanently changed, but our experience shows otherwise.” Prostatectomy side effects can include urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

“I was really blessed. I have faith in the Lord,” McKinney says. “He assured me he had this covered. My faith was really helpful, and God put the right people in place all along. Everything went as well as it possibly could.”


At Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), our urology surgeons offer unmatched expertise in the latest prostatectomy techniques. We effectively treat prostate cancer and enlarged prostate, with a focus on your unique needs. We can often preserve key sexual and urinary functions after surgery.

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