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Early detection saved Moorhead man from prostate cancer

Doctors at Sanford Health noticed something was wrong with Frank Zanotti's prostate during a routine check-up. Early detection helped keep him from further complications.

Prostate Cancer
Frank Zanotti meets with Dr. Miran Blanchard after battling prostate cancer.
Sam Goetzinger / WDAY
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MOORHEAD — For many men, going to the doctor for a routine check-up isn't always at the top of their mind. That was the case for Frank Zanotti, a Moorhead man who prides himself on good health.

"I never really went to a doctor unless I had a symptom. I'd always been that way," he said.

At the age of 50, his friends convinced him to start seeing a doctor routinely, and it was a good thing he did.

"And a couple years ago, they had been watching my PSA (prostate-specific antigen) numbers and noticed that we got a little spike in that PSA," he said.

That spike could be an indicator of prostate cancer.


After a negative biopsy, the doctors still didn't feel confident. Zanotti was sent back for more tests.

"So he did and found a spot that was concerning, a spot that was missed by the first biopsy. So they did a second biopsy. And they identified where the cancer was at that point," Zanotti said.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

"It is a very common cancer. One in eight men will get prostate cancer. By the time the person is having symptoms from prostate cancer, it's often advanced too tremendously, to the point where he'll need years of treatments, and potentially even treatments not meant for cure — to kind of keep the cancer in check as long as possible," said Dr. Miran Blanchard, Radiation Oncologist with Sanford Health.

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In many cases, like Zanotti's, there are not any symptoms.

"Once you hit the age of 45 for colonoscopies, it's important to make sure to get those to make sure that there isn't something going on that no symptom would notify you to, but if we can find it earlier with a test, we can dramatically improve our odds of fixing it," Blanchard said.

Luckily for Zanotti, they caught it in time and he is now in good health at age 63. All thanks to a routine check up.

"But those folks on the fence, just say, you know, it's it's a small period of time out of a year to go in and meet with somebody and have a physical," Zanotti said. "And (for) those folks that haven't done it, it's worth it."


Doctors encourage men to get colonoscopy check-ups at the age of 45 or earlier if they have a history of cancer in their family and to consider prostate-specific antigen blood tests at the age of 50.

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