Dr. George Suarez, a Miami-based urologist and founder of International HIFU Centers, has been awarded the 2016 Healthcare Visionary Award by the Miami Herald. This prestigious recognition is given to a medical pioneer who has made a major contribution to the advancement of healthcare that benefits the community.
Dr. Suarez was one of over 250 overall nominees and three finalists within the healthcare Visionary category. His dedication to finding a better treatment for prostate cancer that not only cures men of the disease, but also preserves their dignity, resulted in the FDA approval of HIFU (high intensity focused ultrasound) in October of 2015.
HIFU is a targeted, non-invasive therapy that uses ultrasound energy to heat and destroy specific areas of tissue without damage to surrounding areas. It is done in an outpatient setting and does not require surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. In 2003, Suarez first sought approval for the use of HIFU in the U.S. for prostate cancer –which had already been approved in Europe and Japan because of its positive results –but was denied and told further research was needed.
Suarez spent a dozen years, and a large sum of personal funds, advocating for HIFU while conducting research to prove its benefits to patients. HIFU significantly decreases the risk of impotence, from 80% to 2%, and incontinence, from 20% to .4%, when compared to other prostate cancer treatments such as surgical removal of the organ or radiation. In addition, studies show a 95.4% decrease in PSA levels with 80% of patients remaining cancer-free for up to 10 years.
While waiting for the FDA to act and not wanting to deny men in need a better treatment option, Suarez offered HIFU in centers he established in the Caribbean, Mexico, South America and Canada. Thanks to Suarez, it is now no longer necessary for American men to travel overseas to obtain the life-altering treatment. Dr. Suarez has since performed over 2,300 HIFU treatments – more than any other doctor in the world – and has trained over 500 physicians in how to administer HIFU.
“Having changed the culture of how we treat the most common cancer in men and having the opportunity to impact the entire community of urologists around the world is deeply gratifying,” said Suarez. “But most importantly, we can now provide an effective treatment that offers a cure without compromising quality of life and dignity for men.”
The Miami Herald South Florida Visionary Awards recognizes 13 community leaders who have made a positive impact in their respective fields which include: architecture, arts/culture, business, civic leadership, education, environment, government, healthcare, next generation, philanthropy, real estate development, quality of life and the 305 award.
Nominations from Herald readers were provided for each category. A panel of community judges narrowed down the field to 3 nominees per category. Readers were once again given a voice with the opportunity to vote online while also factoring votes from a panel of community judges who looked at the vision, impact and inspiration of each finalist. Winners were announced on June 13, 2016.
For more information on Dr. George Suarez, visit www.hifumedicalexpert.com or call 305-274-7144.