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Witness to 30 years of improvement – and working for more

Dr. Glenn Bauman is a radiation oncologist who has seen a lot of improvement in prostate cancer treatment over his 30 year career as a physician and researcher – including improvements arising from his own research.

“One of the most gratifying parts of research is when you see a discovery make it into the care of a man and it changes treatment,” he says. “For radiation treatment, we’re fortunate that innovations can usually be brought into care pretty quickly.”

“Research has really changed how men are treated with radiation through the use of new technologies that are more focused. This allows us to give higher doses per day with the same or fewer side effects, allowing us to shorten the overall treatment time from months to weeks.”

Over the course of his career, studies in which he and his patients have been involved have changed the way patients will be treated in future: “Not infrequently, the patients I’m following have been on research studies. It’s always gratifying to be able to tell them when the results of a study become available. I can explain how their participation made a difference and how treatment has changed because of their participation.”

He continues: “I recently discharged a man from my practice, after almost 20 years of follow-up, who participated in a randomized trial of two months versus nine months of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT – also known as hormone therapy) with radiotherapy.  This trial showed that the shorter course of ADT was equivalent to the longer course and confirmed a 95 per cent survival rate from prostate cancer after ten years. Now, because of this research, shorter courses of ADT with radiation have become a standard treatment for higher risk cancers. My patient was grateful to be alive and well so many years after his participation, and was excited to know he’s helped make a difference for others in his situation.”

Technology driving better outcomes and research

The evolution of radiation treatment for prostate cancer is one of the factors contributing to the reduction in the death rate by 50 per cent in the last 25 years. To continue the momentum, more advances driven by research are needed.

And Dr. Bauman continues to contribute. Currently, he is a co-investigator in the PRONTO study, a five-year, $5 million research project awarded by Prostate Cancer Canada and proudly funded by Movember Foundation that started in 2014.

Dr. John Bartlett at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research leads the project. He says: “The question we’re asking is: Is there genetic information in the biopsy that tells us if the patient is at risk of having aggressive prostate cancer and therefore should have their prostate removed? Or, does it tells us that the man could safely avoid having prostate removal surgery and go into an active surveillance program?” says Dr. Bartlett.

PRONTO consists of a team of 14 researchers from 12 institutions across Canada working to develop a test that can be used on tissue taken during prostate biopsies. The team started with 700 genetic markers and has narrowed it down to about 100. If all goes well, a test could be available in 2021 at the time a man has a biopsy to improve the accuracy of diagnosis.

A hopeful future

Dr. Bauman has seen a lot of change in his career and contributed to improvements that are extending lives. Everything he has seen makes him optimistic about the future:

“I think for many years, we’ve been managing men with prostate cancer with quite a limited toolset.  What we are now seeing are the results of past research maturing, creating new options for men today along with new research directions to help men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the future”

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Posted: 2019-07-29 3:57:39 PM


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