Lansdale man’s message: Don’t ignore your health

Sal Sorbello hadn’t seen a doctor since 1995. “I go to the gym every day, and I’ve always been relatively healthy,” says Sorbello, 68, of Lansdale.

But Sorbello’s health started to show subtle signs of change throughout 2021. First, he lost a few pounds. “I thought it was because I stopped drinking beer and was exercising longer,” he says. Then, he found he was making about 10 to 12 bathroom trips a day.

“I’d tell him, please, Sal, go to the doctor,” said Sal’s wife, Joyce. But Sal couldn’t imagine that anything was seriously wrong. “I see all these ads on TV and convinced myself I had irritable bowel syndrome,” he says.

Finally, on New Year’s Day 2022, Sal woke up with night sweats, chills, and a 102.5-degree fever. Concerned, he went to his primary care doctor, who suggested he get a colonoscopy at Grand View Health from gastroenterologist Kathleen Lukaszewski, DO.

When Dr. Lukasewski got the results, she told Sal, “I’m pretty sure it’s cancer,” Sal recalls. “She booked me an appointment with Dr. [Daniel] Latta the next day.”

Timely referral

At first, Sal thought the treatment would be quick and easy. “I asked Dr. Latta, ‘when are we gonna cut this thing out?’” Unfortunately, Sal had been diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer which had spread to his lymph nodes. Dr. Latta, a double board-certified and fellowship-trained colorectal surgeon with Grand View Health Surgery, explained to Sal that he’d need a long-term, comprehensive plan involving multiple specialists to eradicate his cancer.

“Thankfully, Grand View Health is home to an excellent multidisciplinary team that allowed Sal to receive the treatments he needed close to home,” Dr. Latta says.

Sal’s treatment plan included 16 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by seven weeks of radiation therapy and chemo combined. This plan would help shrink Sal’s tumor (which was 8.4 cm wide and located in his lower rectum) and stop the spread of his cancer. The last step would be robotic-assisted surgery to remove the tumor.

“Dr. Latta showed me a diagram of where my cancer was and gave me a blueprint to beat this,” Sal says. “He was thorough. He didn’t make any false promises but made it clear that he believed he could help me.”

Positive attitude

Throughout his treatment journey, Sal put his faith in his oncologist, Anthony Magdalinski, DO, with Alliance Cancer Specialists, his radiation oncologist, Shefali Gajjar, MD, with Grand View Radiation Oncology, and Dr. Latta. “I knew right from the start that if I could stay positive and do what they told me to do, everything would work out fine,” Sal says.

By November 2022, Sal was ready for surgery. Dr. Latta performed the nine-and-a-half hour procedure using the da Vinci® Surgical System. “The robotic approach allows us to perform very complex procedures like Sal’s through very tiny incisions,” Dr. Latta says. “That decreases the length of time patients spend in the hospital and gets them back to their normal lives quicker.”

Sal also benefitted from Dr. Latta’s expertise in performing ostomy-sparing surgery, which meant that Sal only needed to wear an ostomy bag for a few weeks after the procedure.

Today, Sal has a clean bill of health. “I’m back at the gym, and my bowel habits are back to normal,” he says. He’ll continue seeing Dr. Latta for regular follow-up visits over the next five years to ensure his cancer doesn’t return.

Sal now shares this important message with other men: “Get your colonoscopy, no matter how well you’re feeling” he says. “If I had gotten mine at age 60, I may have caught this before it became cancer.”

Learn more about colorectal surgery at Grand View Health. Visit