Paul Lange, MD
When the Doctor is the Patient
In 2001, Dr. Paul Lange was already a world-famous doctor, chairman of the Department of Urology at the University of Washington, and renowned for his skill as a surgeon and his research on urological cancers, including prostate cancer.
Then he got prostate cancer.
His experience with prostate cancer, Dr. Lange says, made him an even better doctor, one who has more empathy for his patients' fears and concerns. "It's changed the way I listen to patients," says Dr. Lange, who is now cured of the disease. "I'm a lot more sympathetic to [their worries] than I was before. I don't think there's any question about that."
Having prostate cancer led Dr. Lange to write "Prostate Cancer for Dummies" (Wiley Publishing, 2003), an informative and readable book that is selling well. "The 'Dummies' called me and asked me to participate, and initially I said no, thinking there were enough books out there," he says.
"But they convinced me there was a need for a book that was more layman-sensitive … and patients seem to like this book better and seem to understand better from reading this book."
The book was a collaboration with a co-author, Christine Adamec, an experienced medical writer whose husband is a prostate cancer survivor. More than 10,000 copies of the book have been sold to date.
Heal thyself—or chose the next best option
Dr. Lange, who helped develop the PSA test, designed to detect prostate cancer, began testing his own PSA in his 50s. "It started to go up," he says, "so I got a biopsy."
When he heard the diagnosis of prostate cancer, just like any other man, he says, "I went through a lot of things. Anxiety. I was scared and worried."
Dr. Lange chose his colleague, Dr. William Ellis, as his surgeon. "I have always considered our group to be a world-class center, so leaving for another place and surgeon would have reflected badly, and would not have 'kept it quiet,'" Dr. Lange says. "Besides, I helped train him, so in a way it was the closest thing I could get to a mirror."
Dr. Lange adds that he had no side effects from the surgery and did not need any other treatment. "Bill did a wonderful job," he says. "Indeed, my wife says—I hope jokingly—'Unfortunately, it didn't change him.' … And I am almost certainly cured."
Having prostate cancer doesn't seem to have slowed Dr. Lange's pace. His resume, 31 tightly spaced pages, lists achievements including hundreds of publications, positions on the editorial boards of nine journals, a year as president of the Society of Urologic Oncology, a number of awards and his recent election to the American Board of Urology.
Dr. Lange was chairman of UW's department of Urology for 20 years. He stepped down in 2007 to devote more time to patient care and research and to be director of the Prostate Cancer Research Institute, a collaboration between the University of Washington Academic Medical Center and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. It includes more than 50 researchers and clinician/scientists working on prostate cancer. Many are international leaders in the field.
The clinician/scientists in the group devote most, if not all, of their time to treating patients with prostate cancer and doing either basic or clinical research, Dr. Lange says. The group includes urologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. They work closely together, and see patients either at the prostate clinic at the SCCA clinic or at the new SCCA Prostate Cancer Center at the University of Washington Medical Center.
Dr. Lange is a restless man. Even when he settles in his desk chair for a conversation, he never really settles. He jumps up to grab a brochure off a shelf, to check something on his computer, then to ask his assistant for a copy of his book. During a whirlwind tour of the new SCCA Prostate Center, he strides through the corridors of the new facility, opening and closing doors along the way and describing the function of each office.
Dr. Lange's energy and attention to detail are part of what make him a great doctor. Denise Chmela-Gerdon, Dr. Lange's assistant since 1990, says, "He is one of a kind."
Note: Copies of Dr. Lange's book, "Prostate Cancer for Dummies," can be checked out from the Resource Center on the first floor of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
Paul Lange, UW professor and chair emeritus of the Department of Urology, has received the Huggins Medal, the highest award bestowed by the Society of Urologic Oncology. The award was presented at the society’s annual meeting in Bethesda, Md., Nov. 30 – Dec. 2.
The Huggins Medal recognizes outstanding contributions in furthering the science of urological oncology and advancing patient care for individuals with genitourinary cancer. Lange’s career in surgery and translational research spans four decades. He is an internationally recognized clinical expert in genitourinary oncology, tumor markers, reconstructive urologic surgery and medical ethics. He is a renowned surgeon and a leader in research on urological malignancies, including prostate cancer.
Lange is director of the Institute for Prostate Cancer Research (IPCR), a partnership of scientists and physicians at UW Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The IPCR’s mission is to understand the causes of prostate cancer and its progression, develop new prevention strategies, devise innovative diagnostics and improve survival and quality of life.
The Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO) was created in 1984 as a place where physicians interested in the care of patients with malignant genitourinary diseases could meet to discuss, develop and implement ideas to improve care.
The Huggins Medal is named after Charles B. Huggins, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1966 in recognition of his work on the hormonal treatment of prostate cancer.
Paul Lange, MDDr. Lange is a urology specialist who believes that the best patient care requires new discoveries, established guidelines, and a physician who practices the art of medicine.
Patient Care Philosophy:
New discoveries, established guidelines, and the individual patient will always require a physician who practices the art of medicine.
- Professor, Urology Department, University of Washington School of Medicine
- Director, Institute for Prostate Cancer Research (IPCR), a partnership of scientists and physicians at UW Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Genitourinary oncology, tumor markers, reconstructive urologic surgery, medical ethics
Education And Training
- Washington University School of Medicine, 1967
Residencies: Duke University School of Medicine Surgery, 1970-1972,
Univ. of Minnesota Hospital & Clinic Urology, 1971-1975
- Fellowship: University of Minnesota Hospital & Clinic Tumor Immunology, National Institutes of Health, 1968-1970
For more information about Dr. Paul Lange's clinical and research expertise, click here.