CTRC director testifies to FDA, publishes JAMA editorial

Ian M. Thompson, Jr., M.D., discusses data supporting finasteride as prostate cancer preventative and writes in support of active surveillance for low-risk patients

SAN ANTONIO (Dec.1, 2010) — Ian M. Thompson, Jr., M.D., executive director of the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, testifies today before a Food and Drug Administration committee on cancer drugs, supporting a label change for the generic drug finasteride to reflect the results of a large clinical trial that found that the drug significantly reduces a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

Finasteride, sold under the brand name Proscar but now available as a generic, is used to shrink noncancerous enlarged prostates.

“It’s very unusual for a generic medication to have such a hearing before the FDA and, in the sense that this is a cancer prevention intervention, it’s very, very unusual,” said Dr. Thompson, who will also be giving a free public seminar on prostate health tomorrow night at the CTRC.

Dr. Thompson is the lead presenter at today’s FDA hearing, giving information on the benefits of finasteride. The drug was found to reduce a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer by 25% in a study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and led by Dr. Thompson.

“This is a real opportunity for men to never get a disease,” said Dr. Thompson, the principal investigator of the San Antonio-based study of almost 19,000 men.

Dr. Thompson’s FDA testimony coincides with the publication today of his editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association on the benefits of surveillance, instead of aggressive intervention, in men with low-risk prostate cancer.

“The appeal of active surveillance is both the desire to avoid overtreatment and the concern about how treatment affects quality of life,” wrote Dr. Thompson and Laurence Klotz, M.D., Chief of Urology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre at the University of Toronto. They co-authored the editorial about the results of a study comparing active surveillance with initial treatment for men with low-risk prostate cancer published in that issue of JAMA.

Not everyone will choose surveillance, the authors note, but because the side effects of radiation therapy and surgery can include bowel problems, impotence and incontinence, and more than 90 percent of even patients with low-grade cancer receive surgery or radiation, it should be part of the discussion doctors have with their patients.

“How to understand your PSA test results” is the first in a series of free public presentations on cancer provided by the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. PSA tests have increased our ability to detect prostate cancer in men, but Dr. Thompson’s nationally recognized research has shown that patients and physicians cannot depend on those results alone to evaluate risk and treatment.

Dr. Thompson will talk about how to put PSA results in perspective with age and other risk factors.

The meeting is Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, 6 to 7:30 pm. At the Cancer Therapy & Research Center, 7979 Wurzbach Road – fourth floor, Grossman Building, Mabee Conference Room. RSVPs appreciated but not mandatory: Call (210) 450-1152 or thomasE4@uthscsa.edu

The Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the elite academic cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center, and is one of only four in Texas. A leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, the CTRC Institute for Drug Development (IDD) conducts one of the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug programs in the world, and participates in development of cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit www.ctrc.net.

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