$3.3 million to fund study of comparative effectiveness of prostate cancer therapies

UNC Lineberger team will examine minority, underserved populations

Media contact:  Ellen de Graffenreid, 919-962-3405, edegraff@med.unc.edu

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CHAPEL HILL – Men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer are offered multiple treatment options.  Newer radiation and surgical techniques have been widely adopted but there is not a lot of evidence to demonstrate that these treatments are better than older therapies.  These developments combine with media coverage of conflicting recommendations regarding PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening and advocacy of watchful waiting to make for a confusing treatment landscape without much evidence that one path is better than another.

That’s why UNC Lineberger’s Ronald Chen, MD, MPH, and Paul Godley, MD, PhD, are leading a team of researchers to conduct comparative effectiveness research comparing different management strategies for localized prostate cancer.

The team has received $3.3 million from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to fill gaps in evidence about which treatments are most effective.  They are recruiting patients in North Carolina in different age groups, ethnicities, socioeconomic status and disease risk groups and will follow them to determine outcomes of their treatments over time.   They will also examine outcomes in African American patients and those living in medically underserved areas and look at how differences in patient demographics affect their treatment selection and outcomes, including disease control, survival and quality of life.

“We hope to be able to say, specifically, what treatment modalities are most effective or best able to preserve patients' quality of life, or maybe multiple treatments have similar efficacy. In addition to ensuring that our health care system is as effective or efficient as possible, our findings have the potential to improve patients’ quality of life by better informing them about the treatment choices and consequent effects so they can make more informed choices,” said Chen, who is an assistant professor of radiation oncology at UNC.

“We know that prostate cancer outcomes are poorer in certain populations,” added Godley, who is a professor of hematology/oncology who also treats prostate cancer patients.

“We hope that this study will help us compare various causal factors and hone in on some of the reasons why this is the case.”

Other investigators on the research team include UNC Lineberger members William Carpenter, PhD and Til Sturmer, MD MPH, both of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Matthew Nielsen, MD, of the Division of Urologic Surgery, as well as Anne-Marie Meyer, PhD, of the Sheps Center for Health Services Research and Shrikant Bangdiwala, PhD, of the Department of Biostatistics.

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