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Translational science in action

March 2011

by Elizabeth Allen

Ian M. Thompson, M.D.
Director Ian M. Thompson, M.D., helps lead translational science at the CTRC.
The research of CTRC leaders has translated immediately into life-enhancing and lifesaving information that is benefiting doctors and their patients across the country.

The nationally recognized work of CTRC Director Ian M. Thompson Jr., M.D., has resulted in new recommendations about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. His work on the drug finasteride has given men another option in prostate cancer prevention as well as treatment. And his studies have raised questions about how helpful aggressive screening and treatment is, balanced against the significant side effects of prostate gland removal. This gives men and their doctors better information about when and whether to treat for prostate cancer.

The UT Health Science Center was also a major player in a study of almost 17,000 women on the effects of combined hormone replacement therapy used to treat the symptoms of menopause. About 400 San Antonio women participated in the study, led locally by Robert S. Schenken, M.D., professor and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the Health Science Center.

When the analysis revealed that use of combined hormone therapy caused about a one-third increase in the risk of breast cancer, most women stopped taking combined hormone therapy.

A follow-up analysis by Peter Ravdin, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Clinic at the CTRC, showed that breast cancer rates in the U.S. immediately went into a steep decline for the first time in decades, ultimately dropping by almost 10 percent.

"This study questioned conventional wisdom, and found an unexpected result that was very useful," Dr. Ravdin said.



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