Jay Gray: Good afternoon, I am Jay Gray, joined here by Dr. Ali Kasraeian. Actually the show open is accurate for once again, because I’m back in filling in for Danielle today.
Dr. Kasraeian: Absolutely. It’s like the old school game.
Jay Gray: Exactly.
Dr. Kasraeian: We brought our old uniforms out today.
Jay Gray: Very old school, and I’m sitting in here with two rivals, a Florida fan and an Alabama fan right now.
Today we’ve got a great show, so if you want to call in 340-1045. Dr. Ali, right before we started, you were telling me it may be a little bit of history being made here today.
Dr. Kasraeian: Yeah, so today we are very excited. So earlier today we had the first prostate cancer run in the region that we partnered with Zero Cancer to do. And that was a very grammatically incorrect sentence, but it was because I’m so excited about what we did today.
Zero Prostate Cancer is an organization that is dedicated to … Again, their mission is simply to end prostate cancer, which is a tall undertaking. One of the ways that they do it is they go into communities and we create awareness events, one of which is a run/walk. That’s the biggest thing that they do in multiple communities, and we had a 5k run. We had a one mile run/walk, and a kids super hero dash.
It was a great event. We had a large number of people show up. We had a large number of survivors show up to celebrate survivorship, and also people that had recently, and over the not-so-recent past, lost loved ones to prostate cancer. And so we celebrated their lives.
We talked about the importance of raising awareness for prostate cancer, a disease that affects one in seven people in their lives, and fortunately, when caught early, has an incredibly successful success rate. 2.5 million men live with prostate cancer, so typically this is a disease that people live with, they don’t die of. However, the world of prostate cancer has been plagued with controversy of whether or not to screen, what to do once you get diagnosed, how to follow the disease if you are diagnosed, and you follow a variety of different treatments.
It’s one that is not necessarily the easiest one for people to know what to do, whether you are a patient, whether you are a primary care physician. Even the world of urology is not necessarily moving in direction with crystal clear pictures. The world of medicine and the world of prostate cancer is changing at a blazing pace.
My guest today to discuss this is a dear friend of mine. I’m very excited that over the past year, I’d say, we’ve become closer friends in our mission to raise awareness for prostate cancer, raise awareness for a very incredible treatment modality called HIFU, High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, which uses sound waves and ultrasound to ablate prostate tissue for a more focal therapy. You can treat the whole prostate.
This is a segway for people who have disease that may not necessarily be as minimal in volume or aggressivity, that warrants active surveillance, where you just monitor it, but it may not necessarily be the disease that you have to undergo a radical prostatectomy or external beam radiation therapy. So it allows us to change the paradigm of that plagued controversy of over diagnosis, which truly has overshadowed this discussion, where we can break that.
Not every prostate cancer that’s diagnosed necessarily needs to be treated, and if it does need to be treated, we don’t necessarily have to have the prostatectomy or the radiation therapy. Again, I speak of this as a prostatectomist. That’s what my fellowship training is, in minimally invasive surgery for prostate cancer.
Clete Walker is joining us. He is the lord and president, CEO, owner of Vituro Health, which is a company that has dedicated itself to men’s health, men’s health awareness, and the process of maintaining men’s health. One factor of that has been the introduction of one modality of treatment of prostate cancer, which is HIFU, High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, with a grand focus in educating not only the public of this as a treatment, but also the practitioners and the urologists that are treating this with HIFU.
Dr. Stephen Scionti’s been a guest of this show before, is the Medical Director at Vituro. I’m very fortunate to be a part of this organization where our focus is education, and making sure the right patient gets the right treatment by the right surgeon, who knows how to perform this very elegant operation.
Clete, thank you for joining us.
Clete Walker: Thank you. I’m glad to be here, very excited to be here, actually. The prostate cancer run this morning was fantastic. It was great to see all the folks out, especially the survivors, raising more awareness for prostate cancer. We have also a national sponsorship with Zero, which has been very good this year. We’ve attended lots of races. They have about 40 around the country. We attended about 25% of those and then we supported the rest of them, but we wouldn’t have missed this one for anything in the world.
Dr. Kasraeian: Well, we feel very honored that you are here. You actually won in your age group, which was what, 79 and over?
Clete Walker: Yeah, well, and there was only once participant and that was me, so I had to win.
Dr. Kasraeian: He’s actually not that old. Probably closer to my age group. So let me ask you, and we’ll kind of answer this question and backtrack to how all this got started for you, but why did you guys decide to partner as a national partner with Zero Cancer, the Vituro organization?
Clete Walker: Absolutely. So obviously, when we first started as a startup company … We’ve been in business now for 14 months, and we needed to get our name out there. We wanted to create a brand. We looked around the country and Zero was a lot like what I would consider the Susan G. Komen of breast cancer awareness and their run races. I thought that had been very successful, so we looked to Zero.
We talked to them. We felt like it was a good partnership. They’re trying to create a lot of awareness. They have a lot of patients. They have a lot of patient advocacy programs. They have a lot of government relation programs, and scholarship programs.
We just felt like it was a very good partnership, that would allow us to be seen throughout the country, and allow us to create more awareness for prostate cancer, because I do believe that prostate cancer today is kind of where breast cancer was 10 or 15 years ago. We’re starting to see more and more awareness, and more and more discussion about it. That’s what we want to see.
Dr. Kasraeian: Since we first met, awareness of health care in general, and specifically men’s health awareness, has been something that you have discussed as a driving force for most of what you do in the health care field, and a driving force as a mission for Vituro Health, prostate cancer and HIFU being one component of that in your long-term vision for Vituro Health. How did this start?
Clete Walker: Great question. So I’ve been around health care a long time, probably since the early ’90’s. My father had prostate cancer in 2001. Obviously, I’m a male, not quite 79 years old yet.
Dr. Kasraeian: Thank you for clarifying that for us.
Clete Walker: Not quite 79 years old yet, but I am reaching that age where there are a lot of male issues. As I learned about high intensity focused ultrasound, I also did a lot of research around men’s health in general. Again, being a guy’s guy, and being around a lot of men, I know that we don’t like to talk about health care. We don’t like to talk about our health. We don’t like to talk to other people about our health.
We want to avoid discussions in general, and when I saw that this was an opportunity to, not only bring a new technology to the health care community, but also provide men with a resource that could be their advocates and their call center … We have nurses that they can talk to, and they can ask questions, and really men’s health … There’s lots of women’s centers. You don’t see a lot of men’s centers out there. We know that’s because men just don’t … We don’t take good care of ourselves, but we need to, and our loved ones want us to. So we wanted to provide a resource for that to happen.
After going through prostate cancer with my father in 2001, and seeing the outcome and the confusion around treatment, and what was available, and how we went through the process … You ask the question to 10 different people, you get 10 different answers. It became a real passion.
I’ve been around a lot of startup companies. I’ve been around a lot of health care companies. I’ve never been more passionate about a business in my life. I wake up every day knowing that we’re doing great work for men. We’re literally curing cancer at times. I get lots of texts and messages from patients. I talk to all of our patients on a pretty regular basis, and it really excites me. Part of it was probably because of my experience in health care, but part of it was my father.
Dr. Kasraeian: So let me ask you this. Being someone who went with your father to discuss options, to discuss with him afterwards what to do … as you kind of see health care as always …