Darrin Steinmann had a nagging intuition about prostate cancer several years before he was diagnosed. His first screening showed nothing unusual, and he had no family history, but he stayed vigilant. After a pre-cancer screening in 2014 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“I had a very difficult case,” Darrin says. “The cancer had spread outside my prostate, into a lymph node, and I was only 49 years old.”
After having his prostate removed, Darrin was referred to our Prostate Collaborative. This multidisciplinary team of cancer experts works together to develop a comprehensive, fully-integrated treatment plan in complex cases. The Collaborative is also a resource for patients seeking a second opinion.
“It’s not like you sit down with one doctor and he says, ‘You need to go talk to your urologist about that.’ It’s having all the doctors in one room, at one time,” Darrin says.
“With many cancers, but in particular, prostate cancer, there are many treatment choices and they overlap different specialties,” says Brian Mannion, MD
, Oncology Medical Director, who is part of the team that treated Darrin.
Dr. Mannion and his colleagues created the Prostate Collaborative, a one-time visit with three specialists, to help patients evaluate the options and streamline critical care decisions from the beginning. We are the first to develop a prostate cancer collaborative and use the same approach to treating breast and lung cancer.
“It’s a unique setting where the patient can go in and talk to three physicians at once,” says Robert Summe, MD, radiation oncologist. “The patient and their significant other or family member are all in the room together with the three specialists that deal with prostate cancer: the radiation oncologist, the medical oncologist, and the urologist. It gives them a different perspective to have all three of those specialists in the room at the same time.”
Patients also benefit from having doctors familiar with the latest advances in multiple branches of care working together.
“The field is moving so fast and there’s so many things happening in the different sub-specialties that one person can’t know the nuances of all the options,” Dr. Mannion says.
Dr. Summe agrees. “When you get the three different specialists in the room, the other physicians are going to ask questions and probe more complicated thoughts and ideas, exploring new data and cutting-edge techniques,” he says.
In Darrin's case, new research was actually published shortly after he finished radiation therapy, which suggested adding chemotherapy could improve his outcome.
“When I went to see Dr. Mannion after I finished my radiation, he said, ‘There’s new information that’s come out since our last discussion. Going forward a recommended treatment for somebody in your situation is combining radiation therapy with chemotherapy.’ I then was scheduled for chemo treatment based on the guidelines. The good news of it all is that, to present day, my prostate cancer is non-detectable,” Darrin says.
The program has proved popular with both physicians and patients alike. Darrin admits he was a little intimidated at first, but he quickly saw the benefits of having all three specialists working together.
“I like the collaborative approach. I feel like I have continuity between my doctors. They know each other, leverage their various areas of expertise and they’re able to always see all of my records. They’re able to see each other’s notes, they stay in contact, and they follow up with each other about my case,” Darrin says.
Cancer-specific physician collaborations is one component of our commitment to beating cancer with a focus on precision medicine—care tailored to each individual and their condition.