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UAB technology gives 46-year-old patient stronger fight against prostate cancer

When doctors found that 46-year-old Hayden Olds of Fairhope, Alabama, had a low-risk lesion on his prostate, Olds says he was caught off guard because he had not experienced any symptoms and was younger than the typical prostate cancer patient. To ensure he made the right decision moving forward, he chose to come to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“My original urologist recommended surgery, and being that I was so low-risk, I wanted to look at other options to see if I had other alternatives as far as treatments go or possibly no treatment,” Olds said. “So I wanted to get an unbiased second opinion, and I felt like a clinical research facility like UAB would be a good choice.”

Olds saw Jeffrey Nix, M.D., assistant professor in the UAB Department of Urology and one of a select few urologists in the United States with extensive training and years of experience utilizing MRI and ultrasound fusion-guided biopsy, which allows for direct tissue sampling of suspicious areas seen on MRI as opposed to the traditional method of random, systematic sampling of different regions of the prostate.

“It isn’t just about the availability of the technology to do these cutting-edge biopsies, but they require extensive training and experience to do well and really provide benefit for the patient,” Nix said. “This is the key asset that we provide for patients that is unique to UAB for the region.”

Nix says Olds’ initial random biopsy found one small core, but this key asset at UAB found more.

“With the targeted biopsy we can perform, we found another highly suspicious lesion in a spot we wouldn’t have biopsied,” Nix said. “On that targeted biopsy, we found high-risk prostate cancer, which again was missed on his previous biopsy and most likely wouldn’t have been identified on future ‘random biopsies’ based on its location.”

“UAB is a clinical research facility, and they have the resources and technology that don’t exist other places, so you know you’re in good hands and will get the best treatment possible.”

In August 2014, Olds underwent a robotic-assisted prostatectomy because of both the high-risk nature of his cancer and its early onset. Nix says the disease was found to be confined to the prostate, and the resulting surgery was a success.

“Had it not been found as early as it was, and had it gotten out of the prostate and into the margins and lymph nodes, I could very well have had to have chemotherapy or radiation or hormone therapy down the road, so finding it early and having it diagnosed and treated probably saved that for me,” Olds said.

Coming to UAB for that second opinion was a crucial part of this process, Olds says.

“UAB is a clinical research facility, and they have the resources and technology that don’t exist other places, so you know you’re in good hands and will get the best treatment possible,” Olds said. “It was a big relief to be able to come here because before I was just presented with treatment options, and at UAB there was more of a method to determine the best treatment option for my unique situation. They dial in on your issues and find the best path forward for you specifically.”

As of March 2015, Olds has had two successful post-operative follow-up appointments. Nix is pleased to report that, thanks to this technology, they get to see success stories like this one every week.

“Mr. Olds has a lot of years of life left and a lot of years of productivity left, both for his family and for society, so for those patients the benefit could be the highest for all those we treat,” Nix said.

Visit UAB Medicine to learn more, or call 205-934-9999 or 800-UAB-8816 to schedule an appointment. 

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