Memorial Sloan Kettering urologic surgeon Pramod C. Sogani has been inaugurated as President of the American Urological Association (AUA). With more than 19,000 members, the AUA is the nation’s premier professional organization for researchers and physicians specializing in urologic diseases including prostate, bladder, kidney, and testicular cancer.
Dr. Sogani, who has more than 30 years of experience in caring for patients with urologic cancers, began his one-year term as AUA President in May following the association’s annual meeting. We asked him about his new role and his perspective on urologic cancer care.
How has the treatment for urologic cancers advanced during your time of practice?
More options exist today than ever before for the treatment of urologic cancers. Over the past ten years the exchange of knowledge among researchers of various disciplines — including medicine, biochemistry, computer sciences, and engineering — has helped improve our understanding of the biology of urologic diseases.
These insights have led to advances in surgery and radiation therapy that have made it possible to eliminate most localized urologic cancers. And a multitude of new drugs have been developed to extend the lives of patients with metastatic disease.
In addition, a deeper understanding of the benefits and risks associated with overtreatment has enabled cancer physicians and their patients to jointly develop individualized treatment plans, taking into consideration the type and characteristics of the disease as well as the patient’s personal preferences.
What are your goals as AUA President, and what does the election mean to you?
I’m proud to be a part of such a strong urologic community. Many of the AUA’s researchers and clinicians are nationally recognized leaders in developing innovative methods for detecting and treating urologic cancers, as well as in finding new ways to prevent these diseases from occurring in the first place.
As president, I intend to push for increased awareness about the benefits of diet and exercise, knowing your family history, the harms of smoking, and the importance of having meaningful conversations with your doctor about the risks and benefits of early-detection cancer screenings. Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent urologic cancers, studies have shown that individuals can take measurable steps to reduce their risk for disease.
I’m also deeply committed to improving the quality of life for patients with urologic disease. In recent years, the field of urology has rapidly moved toward a better understanding and integration of services to address the diverse needs of our patients, both during and after treatment.
Tell us more about how you and your colleagues work together to improve the quality of life of your patients.
In caring for people with cancer, physicians need to understand that this disease afflicts not only the organs of the body, but the entire person and those around them. A patient’s quality of life is impacted from the start of the oncology experience, during which he or she encounters many unplanned, life-altering events.
Just as we pursue a multidisciplinary approach in treating the physiological manifestations of the disease — for example, medical oncologists, radiologists, and surgeons work together on a treatment plan — we need to take a similar approach in supporting our patients during and after treatment.
This means that a patient’s care team includes not only medical experts, but also specialists in psychology, rehabilitation, nutrition, finance, and many other areas. At Memorial Sloan Kettering, these types of support are fully integrated into the patient's treatment plan.