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Meet Mark Scholz of Prostate Oncology Specialists in Marina del Rey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark Scholz.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Mark. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Prostate cancer was a natural choice for an oncologist wanting to be successful in the hypercompetitive Los Angeles marketplace. Medical oncologist are generalists that are charged to care for over 100 different types of cancer. But how can you promote yourself as the best at everything? Since no other oncologists are solely specializing in prostate cancer, and since it is the most common type of cancer in men, it seemed like a natural specialty to pursue.

Prostate cancer is far less malignant compared to other types of cancer. When I first got out of training at USC, I practiced general oncology for a couple years. Coming to work every day was like going to a Mash Unit on the front lines of a war zone. People were dying almost every day.

Thankfully by limiting myself to prostate cancer, mortality is relatively rare. Compared to the average medical oncologist who is managing leukemia and metastatic cancers from the brain, lung, colon and bone, etc., prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer and much easier to manage.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Sometimes I feel like I am fighting an avalanche of medical incompetence. You probably didn’t know that over a million men had a prostate biopsy last year. Out of these one million, 30,000 were hospitalized with a life-threatening infection and perhaps a thousand of them ended up dying! These million biopsies led to 100,000 men being diagnosed with low-risk type of cancer that is essentially harmless and shouldn’t be treated. But at the word “cancer” is such a malignant term that most men end up being frightened into unnecessary treatment anyway. They usually do surgery and that makes them impotent and incontinent. Most of this tragedy is avoidable if the doctors who treat prostate cancer would just replace their infatuation for doing biopsies with a commercially available type of imaging called multiparametric MRI. I have been trying to raise awareness about this through the Prostate Cancer Research Institute, a nonprofit I founded to educate the public about the latest treatments for prostate cancer. It has been my life’s work to help men avoid unnecessary treatment and provide unbiased information that helps them to make informed decisions.

From a business perspective, my world has presented various challenges, especially the ever-narrowing profit margins due to pre-prescribed insurance payment schedules. So far, with careful attention to our business practices we have been able to offset the narrow profit margins with improved efficiencies and by seeing more patient cases.

Our biggest challenge is human resources. We are a service organization from beginning to end and we serve a very discerning and intelligent clientele. For example, we consult with many patients who are CEOs, lawyers, doctors and engineers. Critical thinking is important in every aspect of patient care. As such, to help handle our heavy case load we employ university-trained staff throughout the office. We support our doctors with a team of scribes, research and laboratory personnel, nurses, and administrative staff. This improves the efficiency and reduces the workload of our doctors, enabling them to confidently delegate tasks with assurance that their orders will be accurately followed.

One good challenge we face is adapting to the fast pace of rapidly evolving technology. Revolutionary new discoveries have completely altered the way I work. One example is immunotherapy. Ten years ago, there was no hint of effective immunotherapy therapy, even on the horizon. Now, depending on individual patient needs, I am choosing among three or four different types of immunotherapy, which I use either singly or in various combinations.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Our practice has certain advantages that enable us to provide truly personalized care.

Limiting ourselves exclusively to prostate cancer allows us focus on the latest developments for this one disease. Because of the large number of patients we see, we can quickly learn from direct experience with these new treatments, which are truly effective and which are not. Being a medical oncologist rather than surgeon, I don’t have a preset agenda toward a specific treatment. All treatments, including active surveillance, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, surgery, radiation, brachytherapy, cryotherapy, focal therapy, proton therapy, nutritional and alternative therapies, HIFU and chemotherapy are given consideration and selected depending on the unique needs of each individual patient.

Many people don’t realize that optimal prostate cancer treatment consists of several different medical specialties meshing together as a team. For example, it is not uncommon to interface with specialists in radiation therapy, pathology, surgery and radiology (imaging).

Obviously, the best results are achieved by partnering with physicians who are at the top of their field. As the “quarterbacks” for this team of experts, we at PROS are very careful about whom we invite to join the medical team. Through many years of experience playing this leadership role, we have come across some really special doctors to work with, the kind of doctors who we would want to see if one of us came down with prostate cancer.

What were you like growing up?
I tell friends that where I grew up in Newport Beach, it was like growing up in Disneyland. My father was into boating in Newport Harbor and I can’t imagine anyone enjoying a more idyllic existence. Sometimes patient and friends ask me when I plan to retire from my work. My response is that I can’t retire because I already used up my retirement years growing up in Newport.

In any case, I find my work too meaningful to think about retiring. I see myself as fulfilling a very important role in my patients’ lives as a defender of their longevity and their quality of life. At PROS, we provide a much better alternative to the mainstream surgical approach to prostate cancer. I am so passionate about improving patient care that even though I was a terrible English student, I have somehow ended up writing two books on the topic. The first one I wrote is called Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers, which is basically an expose’ about a prostate industry that puts the doctor’s needs ahead of the patients. In my other book called The Key to Prostate Cancer, I describe the optimal approach for selecting treatment, a methodology that I have worked out over the last 20 years of my professional life. I am very grateful to be involved in a type of work that keeps life meaningful.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kaili Shewmaker
Mark Scholz headshot: Peter Scholz

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