In 2009, at the age of 75, Ralph Stuart was diagnosed with prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. Because of his age, and a previous diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, his doctors “just kind of left it alone,” according to Stuart’s wife, Austine.That could be a reasonable approach for an older man with a slow-growing disease. Mr. Stuart’s cancer didn’t immediately progress. It was there, but did not seem to be growing much, if at all. By the time he reached his early 80s, however, it gradually became clear the cancer was progressing.
“To make a long story short,” Mrs. Stuart said, “we went looking for a new physician.” The Stuarts interviewed several prostate cancer experts. They chose Akash Patnaik, MD, PhD, a national authority on prostate cancer and a faculty member at the University of Chicago Medicine.
By the time they found Patnaik the cancer had become difficult to deal with. It had spread to additional sites and was now stage 4.