HIFU Physician Spotlight: Mark Sender, MD

Mark Sender, MD

Dr. Mark Sender is a scientist at heart but became a doctor so that he could interact with people and help them – plus it turns out he is pretty good at it! Learn more in the interview below about how he became interested in HIFU for prostate cancer and what he likes to do when he isn’t working!

What was your main motivation in becoming a doctor? When did you decide on this path?
I’ve been a physician for over 30 years. My dad and uncle were physicians so I knew it was a likely path for me. I’ve always been a pure scientist and got a degree in biochemistry and pharmacology but knew I didn’t want to work with inanimate objects like drugs. Medicine allowed me to continue as a scientist and apply my knowledge to help patients.

How did you decide on your particular specialty? Why urology?
When I went to medical school, I initially thought I’d go into internal medicine but ultimately decided on urology because I loved surgery and realized I was really good at it. Urology had men, women, children, microsurgery, radical cystectomy and retro perineal lymph node resections…all the things I decided I was interested in. The specialty also used scopes before scopes were in vogue!

What is your favorite part about being a physician?
Being a physician allows me to use my technical and interpersonal skills really well.

When did you first learn about HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer?
I learned about HIFU in the beginning- almost 20 years ago. I did mostly open surgery until I realized the value of minimally invasive surgery options for prostate cancer which led me to want to learn more about HIFU.

When did you become involved in treating patients using HIFU technology?
I started treating patients with HIFU, or High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, about 4-5 years ago and have been pleased with patient outcomes.

Why did you initially become interested in HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer?
I thought we were over-treating patients surgically and also under-reporting side effects. I was also concerned that the patient expectations were not being met. For that reason, I thought HIFU, for the appropriate patient, was going to be an excellent treatment option.

What do you typically tell a patient when they are first diagnosed with prostate cancer?
I tell the patient that they have prostate cancer and what that means; I also share their risk factors and where they are on the spectrum. I like for them to understand the risks of being debilitated or dying of the disease. I explain the different treatment options and if it’s possible that they may not need to be treated at all. There are so many new genetic tests we can offer now to determine their best course of treatment.

What different types of treatments do you offer men with localized prostate cancer?
I offer robotic radical surgery, radiation options like brachytherapy and external beam radiation in its various modes, and HIFU.

In your professional opinion, what are the benefits of HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer?
HIFU is a one stop shop which is great. It is well-tolerated and doesn’t inflict the sorts of side effects like erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, that other treatments do, and that is important.

How do you decide if HIFU is right for a patient? Where do you feel HIFU fits in the prostate cancer treatment landscape?
The patient ultimately decides for himself but I give them the option if they are appropriate. If they are young, and have an outwardly aggressive disease, I will likely steer them in the direction of surgery. If they have 3+4 [Gleason], that is the sweet spot for HIFU. That said, if they have 3+3, and want HIFU, I think that is a great option for them as well.

In general, how quickly do your patients recover after HIFU? What do you tell men to expect?

The patients always do really well. I tell them that when they are voiding well, perhaps 2-3 weeks, they can remove their catheter and resume their lives.

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?

Well…. Screening per se in the sense of treating everyone you find potential cancer in is overtreatment. That doesn’t mean that men shouldn’t be checked. I believe people shouldn’t focus as much on the PSA number but rather the rate of change in the PSA.

When you aren’t practicing medicine what do you like to do?
I like to read, exercise, watch movies, walk the dogs, and sleep. I like doing things that I enjoy that aren’t obligatory and allow me to take care of myself.

Read more about Dr. Sender here and set up a consultation with here today by calling 1-877-884-HIFU (4438).

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