From a very young age, some people know what they want to be when they grow up . This is very true of our Spotlight physician this week. He says he can’t remember a time when he didn’t want to be a doctor. Lucky for us he grew up and become one – because now he is one of the most experienced HIFU doctors in the country having treated or been involved with nearly 400 HIFU prostate cancer patients.
Learn a little more about Dr. John Jurige as he answers a few questions below as a part of our Spotlight on a Doc series! You can read more Physician Spotlights here.
When did you decide that you wanted to become a doctor?
I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be a doctor. I love science, especially biology, and I wanted to make a difference in the lives of other people.
How did you decide on your particular specialty? Why urology?
My Dad was a urologist and I saw that he enjoyed it. Also, it seemed to me that urology offered the blend of performing procedures that employed a lot of innovative technology with management of more chronic patient problems. I like that mix.
What is your favorite part about being a physician?
There is nothing better than a good outcome. I get very involved emotionally with patients and I try to have empathy at all times. So when a treatment plan works out well, that’s very rewarding.
When did you first learn about HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer?
I first learned about HIFU ten years ago, but didn’t act on it until a year or so later. I went to Nassau to observe and ask questions.
Why did you initially become interested in HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer?
I had a very nice patient who was acquainted with HIFU through his own research. He was my first patient. He is now 9 years out from treatment and he’s doing wonderfully. I had extensive experience with prostatectomy and all of the radiation options. I came to the conclusion that many prostate cancers could be managed successfully without the side effects of the other treatments. HIFU fit the bill perfectly. The technology is so elegant and precise. That was really appealing.
What do you typically tell a patient when they are first diagnosed with prostate cancer?
Most of the time, I let patients know that they have options for treatment. I present an overview of all of the options and how they might be appropriate given the characteristics of the patient’s cancer. Then I listen and answer questions. I encourage patients not to make a decision right away and we set up a follow-up discussion.
What different types of treatments do you offer men with localized prostate cancer?
I am part of a large urology group, so we have physicians with great expertise in robotics, IMRT, advanced prostate cancer care, and, of course, HIFU.
In your professional opinion, what are the benefits of HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer?
For early to intermediate risk cancer, I have come to believe that HIFU therapy is equal to radical surgery in terms of cancer control. And it offers a much more favorable side effect profile. Primarily, minimal to no incontinence risks, and a minimal impact on erectile function.
How do you decide if HIFU is right for a patient?
It initially is determined by the characteristics of the cancer. Favorable Gleason score, prostate volume, PSA, and MRI characteristics. Next, it is important that these quality of life issues are of significant importance to the patient and his partner.
In general, how quickly do your patients recover after HIFU? What do you tell men to expect?
The procedure is generally painless and patients can resume most activities right away. The only significant short term issue is the return of normal urinating. This can take a few weeks in some cases. But this doesn’t interfere too much with activities.
There are obviously a lot of different treatments for prostate cancer; where do you think HIFU best fits in the prostate cancer landscape?
In addition to what I have mentioned, HIFU can be used focally in selected patients. This is the next advance in prostate cancer care and no technology is better suited than HIFU.
In recent years there has been some discussion about over treating prostate cancer and even changing guidelines on when men should start getting regular screening for prostate cancer. What do you tell men?
I believe strongly in screening. I also am cautious about overly aggressive therapy. I like to start screening at age 40 and sometimes younger in higher risk groups of men. And I strongly believe in the role of MRI of the prostate when planning biopsies and also staging the disease accurately.
When you aren’t practicing medicine what do you like to do?
I like to spend time with my wife and kids. We play golf and tennis together. And I love warm weather travel spots too.
Want to speak with Dr. Jurige? Schedule a consult with him today!