Customizing Treatments for Urologic Cancers
A reputed urology specialist and assistant professor of urology at Tulane University School of Medicine, Dr. Louis Spencer Krane loves being in academic medicine where he is surrounded by fascinating science and medical discovery. From MRI fusion guided biopsies to robotic surgeries, he has been involved in significant technological advances for treating prostate, kidney and bladder cancers in the past decade and believes there are more medical breakthroughs to come.
At Tulane University School of Medicine, Dr. Krane specializes in personalized medicine for patients with urologic malignancies. “My work is fascinating because now we have better drugs to target malignancies and better technology to treat the specifics,” he says. “Patients can now receive individualized treatments — specific to their tumor or tumors — and we are experiencing better outcomes, while also minimizing the side effects of therapy.”
With the latest treatments and precision-based therapies, Dr. Krane is able to look at metabolic changes, gene mutations and epigenetics (the study of active versus inactive genes), to view how an individual’s chromosomes are being manipulated and what bodily changes this brings about.
Dr. Krane comes from a lineage of medical doctors on both sides of his family (his father and paternal grandfather along with his maternal great grandfather). “The medical profession just seemed to fit,” he says. “I love diagnosing a urological problem and fixing people.” After earning his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and his medical doctorate at Tulane University School of Medicine, he elected to pursue a fellowship in minimally invasive and robotic urology at Henry Ford Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Mani Menon, the father of robotic surgery. He trained in regenerative medicine techniques at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and then completed his Urology Residency at Wake Forest Baptist Health. From there, he pursued additional specialized training in the personalized treatments for prostate and kidney cancer, including MRI fusion guided biopsies and precision-based therapeutics at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda Maryland.
“Tulane recruited me to come back to New Orleans to assist them with treatments based on specific individual diseased states,” Dr. Krane says. “My goal is to use new biomarkers, genomic classifications, epigenetic signatures and imaging modalities to do everything we can to help patients with prostate, bladder and kidney cancers.”
Dr. Krane is currently seeking patients for clinical trials in order to study gene mutations in kidney cancer and prostate cancer. He’s also looking for patients with early stage disease to identify biomarkers in their blood or urine to help find signs of more biologically active tumors. “Even though we have come a long way, every day we are discovering new ways to approach urologic cancers,” he says. “We can now perform complex kidney surgery on patients with inherited kidney cancer disease, taking multiple tumors off a single kidney to prevent the long term renal dysfunction, which is associated with removing the entire kidney.”
Biggest medical challenge: “It is hard to get patients to agree to less aggressive treatment,” Dr. Krane says. “Some low-risk patients come in wanting surgery because that is what they believe they need. One of my patients came in with blood in his urine and a large legion on his kidney. He was very scared because his assumption was that we would remove his kidney. But during the procedure, we were able to remove the lesion, and now he has a fully functioning kidney without the radical procedure.”
On three things on his wish list for medical care: “To make medication more affordable; dedicate more money to the research and development of effective drugs; and ensure that everyone has the same access to care,” Dr. Krane says. “The more we know about diseases, the more we realize we need to learn. We need to ensure resources continue to be pushed into effective patient centered research. I work at four hospitals in New Orleans (Tulane, Touro, UMC and VA), and I see a lot of disparity of access to care. I will have two patients with the same problem but at different stages of the disease because one postponed treatment due to lack of health care choices.”
On practicing medicine in New Orleans: “I was born in New Orleans and attended Isidore Newman High School,” Dr. Krane says. “My wife Mari and I are big Saints fans, and my favorite thing is to bring my 4-year-old son, Meier, to the games. Sometimes we have a hard time getting him to take off his Saints jersey so we can wash it. My daughter, Ella, is only a year old, but soon we can all go to the games together. Who Dat?”
Louis Spencer Krane, M.D.
Tulane Urology & Fertility Clinic
1415 Tulane Ave., 3rd Floor
New Orleans, LA 70112
Undergraduate: University of Michigan
Medical School: Tulane University School of Medicine
Fellowship: Vattikuti Urology Institute, Henry Ford Health Systems/Robotic Surgery
Residency: Wake Forest Baptist Health
Fellowship: National Cancer Institute/Urologic Oncology