Dr. Christopher Warlick Guides Patients Through the Uncertainty of Cancer
As a urologist who specializes in cancer, Christopher Warlick, MD, PhD, spends significant time with patients who have just been given a life-changing diagnosis. He aims to guide them with expertise and compassion through confusion, uncertainty and many difficult decisions.
“It’s a privilege to be able to help people through what can be one of the more challenging times in their life,” Warlick says. “Being able to help people make the best decisions for themselves is something that’s very rewarding. It keeps you motivated and coming back the next day.”
Warlick is an associate professor and interim department head for the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Urology. He specializes in prostate cancer and also treats patients with bladder, kidney and other urologic cancers. The Medical School is a familiar place, where Warlick earned his medical degree and doctorate before completing his residency at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Helping Patients Make Tough Decisions Using Academic Medicine
In 2007, Warlick returned to the University for a career in academic medicine, striving to help individuals with cancer and the broader patient population through research. He finds motivation in both aspects of his work, seeing a great need to improve patient care in prostate cancer.
“It’s a very common cancer that affects a large number of people,” he says. “So, there clearly is a lot of work to be done. Being able to participate in that and help move things forward is inspiring and motivating.”
Warlick also focuses on research and developing innovative tools, such as MRI imaging for prostate cancer and tests to determine early signs of disease progression. He has also shaped protocols for active surveillance of low-risk prostate cancer and created programs to increase the use of shared decision-making around prostate cancer screening and treatment.
He finds it fulfilling to help patients through their prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, especially because the disease is so variable. Some forms of cancer are highly aggressive while others don’t require treatment at all. Many patients feel adrift after their diagnosis and unsure of where they fit into that continuum.
“Where I try to make the biggest impact is helping patients sort through that confusion and figure out where they sit in the spectrum of prostate cancer, what the rational assessment of the risks are and then help them come to the best conclusion for how they should proceed with their disease management,” he says. “What’s the best answer for them?”
World-class and Personal Care
Warlick finds the Medical School as an inspiring place to practice medicine, thanks to its unique combination of cutting-edge medical care in a highly personal environment. He likes to call it, “world-class care with a hometown experience.”
“The place is small enough and navigable enough that you still feel as though you’re being treated as an individual. But, there are still enough resources and access to world-class care in most, if not all, of our departments,” Warlick adds. “That’s a unique combination.”