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Dr. Louis Potters on Treating Prostate Cancer
Louis Potters, M.D., is the chairman of radiation medicine at North Shore Health System, Long Island, NY. He is an internationally renowned expert in the treatment of prostate cancer and is recognized as a leader in the field of radiation oncology. In 1992, Potters became the first physician to offer prostate brachytherapy on Long Island. Here, he shares his thoughts on why patients assume they need treatment right away, why they may not, and what they might want to consider when choosing a treatment option.
Men diagnosed with prostate cancer assume they must take action immediately. Is that true?
Most patients have more than 30 days to make a decision. Men need to understand that the morality for prostate cancer is generally low. Once men understand there’s no urgency, then they can start thinking about what’s best for them.
Do you believe some men make rash decisions because they’re so afraid of having cancer?
A lot of patients people freak at the word cancer. It’s almost impossible to get them to relax. They think, I have to do something about it right now. It becomes an obsession. Some men have the preconceived notion that cutting out the cancer is the best way to go. For them, cutting it out provides them with the mental reassurance that it’s gone. But men don’t have to have that type of reaction.
What are some of the things a man should take into consideration when choosing a treatment?
Radiation takes nine weeks, which means it’s time-consuming. Seed implantation involves one visit, but there tends to be irritation upon urination, so some men may be bothered by that. If sex is a strong driver, then brachytherapy probably offers the best option.
When is it appropriate to wait?
Today we call that expectant management or active surveillance. Patients who choose this will be monitored and observed for anywhere from 6 months to 6 or 8 years. If there are any changes in their condition that represent potential progression of the cancer, they will be put on some treatment modality. Now, a handful of men present with very aggressive prostate cancer, and they may not have 30 days. A high-risk patient may have a treatment plan in place within 30 days, but typical patients can wait.
For more information on Dr. Potters, visit www.northshorelij.com.