March 13, 2013
Mike Hawker travels 3,200 miles from his home in Anchorage to the Mayo Clinic every six months to get a test for microscopic signs that a rare form of prostate cancer he beat three years ago may have returned.
For Hawker, a Republican state representative in Alaska, the trips are a matter of life and death. About 200,000 men who had been treated for prostate cancer learn each year, sometimes too late, that their malignancies have returned. The Mayo Clinic test offers the promise of catching recurring tumors early, before they can kill.
Mayo’s medical center in Rochester, Minnesota, is the only facility in the Western Hemisphere to offer the 20-minute scan, enhanced by an injected radioactive drug that lets doctors see rapidly dividing cancer cells. Demand is surging, though scans are limited to eight patients a day, three days a week