February 4, 2019

Podcast

Ted Schaeffer, M.D., Ph.D.: How to catch, treat, and survive prostate cancer (EP.39)

"With our algorithm. . .you can reduce biopsies by about one third, reduce detection of low-grade cancer by about one third, and you actually don't compromise the detection of higher grade disease. . .we have great tools to offer people very sophisticated screening for their prostate cancer." — Ted Schaeffer

by Peter Attia

Read Time 21 minutes

In this episode, Ted Schaeffer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology (youngest chairman in the country) at Northwestern, presents the roadmap for the best way to screen for, and treat, prostate cancer. We also get into the “mass screening” controversy and all the risks involved with treatment. In addition, we discuss our evolving understanding of cancer and the most exciting areas of research to come.

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We discuss:

  • Ted’s unique path to get his PhD [5:15];
  • The exciting transition in science during Ted’s PhD in the 1990s [15:30];
  • Ted’s advice to MD-PhD students, and why he choose urology and Johns Hopkins [23:45];
  • History of prostate surgery, and Pat Walsh’s legendary work in prostate cancer [36:15];
  • Prostate surgery and the risks involved with treatment [53:00];
  • Screening for prostate cancer [58:00];
  • The “mass screening” controversy [1:12:45];
  • Biopsies and MRI: important things to know [1:25:30];
  • Why urology is such a great field of medicine, and why Peter wants a goat [1:34:45];
  • Ted’s work with Ben Stiller [1:39:00];
  • Gleason grading system [1:43:45];
  • Testosterone, DHT and the prostate cancer controversy [1:53:15];
  • The metabolism of the prostate [2:03:00];
  • The most exciting areas of research in prostate cancer [2:08:00];
  • Benign issues involving the prostate: pelvic pain, infections and treatments [2:11:15];
  • Video of Ted’s surgeries, the latest technology, and males contraceptive options [2:18:00];
  • Watches and cars [2:23:30]; and
  • More.

Ted’s unique path to get his PhD [5:15]

“People ask me about my life and how I got to where I am . . . and one of the things I talk to my trainees about is, you never walk by an open door without looking inside.”

Unique path to get his PhD

  • After 3 years of med school at Johns Hopkins, he left to study science for a year at the NIH (an uncommon decision)
  • Received a scholarship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Got introduced to Pam Schwartzberg, a postdoc in the Varmus Lab
  • Varmus Lab: The lab of Harold Varmus (a Nobel Prize winner for his elucidation of the relationship between viruses and oncogenes)
  • Pam mentored Ted during his time in the lab
  • After his time at the NIH, Ted of granted his PhD from the University of Chicago for the great work he did even though it was not a formal PhD program

Attacking your weaknesses

⇒ Peter says: You said something a second ago that I love. Part of the reason you were attracted to immunology is you felt it was a weakness, and having spoken with a number of very good scientists, I find that to be a very common thread (Peter saw this trait in his mentor, Steven Rosenberg)

The exciting transition in science during Ted’s PhD in the 1990s

==> No longer single gene, single change . . . 

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