Dr. Matthew Hassan is a urologist in Nashville, TN practicing at Urology Associates. Learn about his experience as a urologist and how he became interested in HIFU in this “Spotlight” below. Read Dr. Matthew Hassan’s complete bio here.
What was your main motivation in becoming a doctor? When did you decide on this path? I wanted to be a doctor from a young age. No one in my family is a physician, (other than my wife), but I felt that having a career where you can truly help others and develop trusting relationships with people and their families must be incredibly rewarding. It turned out I was right!
- How did you decide on your particular specialty? Why urology? Urology is wonderful field of medicine. We treat young and old, men and women. It seems like almost everyone needs a urologist at some point. I think urology also allows us to develop long relationships with patients and still be proceduralists. For example, someone may send me a patient with blood in their urine and it is my job to diagnose, treat, and follow that patient. That means my relationship with the patient and their family may be lifelong. In other surgical subspecialties, I think you are more of a technician. Someone sends you a patient that needs a gallbladder removed, and you do it, and then return the patient to the referring doctor. The potential for a longer relationship was more appealing to me.
- What is your favorite part about being a physician? I love helping patients sort through and understand the many ways we can treat different diseases. Particularly, in the field of localized prostate cancer, there are so many different complexities of care that having patients leave my office with a better understanding of the disease and treatments is very rewarding.
- When did you first learn about HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer? I knew about HIFU from some of the early studies that were done in the US in the early 2000’s. Many were done at the current practice in Nashville before I joined the group.
- When did you become involved in treating patients using HIFU technology? Soon after there was FDA approval in the United States in 2015, I knew I wanted to be on the forefront of bringing this therapy to men in our community. We worked hard to develop a program within our practice of Urology Associates, Nashville.
- Why did you initially become interested in HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer? There are many great ways to treat prostate cancer, but the customizability of the HIFU, really is unique. We can treat whole glands, as well as partial glands, even down to small MRI-based lesions. HIFU is not always the right treatment for men with prostate cancer, but it has to be on the menu for discussion and understanding.
- What do you typically tell a patient when they are first diagnosed with prostate cancer? I really emphasize that most of our new diagnoses are low grade and that gives us lots of options. It is important for patients to understand those options, including obtaining second opinions. The slow-growing nature of most prostate cancers usually permits us to take our time and get all of our ducks in a row before we initiate any kind of therapy. In other words, NEVER RUSH to start a therapy.
- What different types of treatments do you offer men with localized prostate cancer? In addition to HIFU, I commonly perform robotic radical prostatectomies. We also use Proton Beam therapy as well as other types of radiation such as CyberKnife and brachytherapy seed implants.
- In your professional opinion, what are the benefits of HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer? The greatest benefit is the quick return to activity and significantly diminished risks of side effects like erection problems and leakage problems. I think the lack of ionizing radiation is also a big benefit to patients down the road in terms of really no risk of developing secondary cancers or bleeding issues.
- How do you decide if HIFU is right for a patient? We really go over all the options. The best patients from my standpoint are those that we tell, “You need treatment, but you just don’t need it right now.” That is to say that a 62 year old who has an early stage prostate cancer will likely need some kind of treatment in their lifetime. A radical prostatectomy or radiation is not any easier at 66 years old than at 62 years old. If we can intervene with HIFU, we may never need to do the more invasive treatments later.
- In general, how quickly do your patients recover after HIFU? What do you tell men to expect? Men usually wear a catheter for a week after a treatment. Most men have some urinary urges and frequency for a week or two after therapy. I let them go back to normal activities once the catheter is removed.
- 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? Every patient is unique. We need to look at their age and health. A lot of the studies that tried to denigrate PSA screening were based on practice patterns from 15 years ago. Just like every specialty, the urology practice has changed. Not every man with an elevated PSA needs a biopsy; not every man with prostate cancer needs surgery or radiation. Those are practice patterns of the past. We use a lot more precise tools like PSA velocity, MRI imaging, and genetics to really guide us to who needs invasive diagnostics and therapeutics. Essentially, we have become more judicious about PSA screening and cancer treatments. We have seen a lot of men harmed by the reduction in screening because we are now diagnosing more prostate cancers at later stages which aren’t as curable. Men need to be informed about their options.
Dr. Matthew Hassan can be contacted for a HIFU consultation by calling 1-877-884-4438.