Urologist Brad A. Wolfson admits that his field is one most people don’t think about until they find themselves in need of a urologist. That might be when they’re dealing with kidney stones, urinary difficulties, urological cancers, or male sexual dysfunction.
It also means that despite urology being most commonly associated with older men, Wolfson gets to work with all kinds of patients.
“I’ve operated on newborn babies from the NICU, a 24-year-old man who has testicle cancer, children when they’re bed-wetting. I see women dealing with urine infections, overactive bladders,” Wolfson says. “We see the gamut, from newborns to really old people.”
As medicine has trended toward larger medical groups in recent years, Wolfson says he enjoys operating the private practice he opened in Palm Springs almost three decades ago, in part because he can foster long-term patient relationships.
“I’ve been here for 27 years, and there are patients I’ve been seeing that whole time. I’m sort of the last surviving lone urology wolf out here,” he shares.
While his focus on relationships with patients hasn’t changed over the years, the treatment options he can offer them has.
“Thirty years ago, everybody had open surgeries for kidney stones. Now almost everything is done with minimally invasive surgery,” he says, adding that open surgeries for conditions like prostate disease have also been replaced by laparoscopic and laser treatments.
“Urology used to be a heavy in-patient process. Now, most surgery is done outpatient or, at most, overnight in the hospital.”
Some patients dealing with low-grade, slow-growing prostate cancer are now electing to have active surveillance and ongoing follow-up with Wolfson rather than a treatment that may not be necessary and can come with unpleasant side effects.
“We’re keeping a close eye on them. Many men, especially when they’re older, will never need any treatment for the disease,” he says. “But a certain percentage will develop more aggressive cancers.”
As developments in the field continue, Wolfson thinks that doctors will eventually be able to test patients to more accurately determine who actually needs treatment for prostate cancer.
“We’re at the cutting-edge of looking at the genetic aspect of the cancer, and hopefully at some point that will help us tailor their treatment based on how aggressive the cancer is going to be.”
Wolfson plans to continue working in his field for as long as he enjoys it.
“The majority of days I have fun doing what I do because the people are so nice, and there are people I’ve had relationships with for many years,” he says. “What keeps me going is the people who say, ‘Thanks, doc,’ and they come back in six months and say, ‘Thank you,’ again. When you hear that over and over you feel appreciated.”