Health Science Center leads national stroke, breast cancer trials

Two major national clinical trials continue under the leadership of Health Science Center physicians.

Part three of a major national effort to prevent strokes is being coordinated by Health Science Center neurologists, while the surgery department is at the halfway point in trials of tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer.

"Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation III" will study patients at 18 sites nationwide to help define the best treatment for the 1.5 million Americans with an abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation.

Co-principal investigators for the project are Robert G. Hart, MD, associate professor of medicine, and David G. Sherman, MD, professor of medicine. The researchers also are staff neurologists at Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital.

Over the past seven years, Drs. Hart, Sherman and co-workers have designed and conducted the two previous phases of the project, which already has changed how hundreds of thousands of patients in this country are treated.

"We know that patients with atrial fibrillation can dramatically lower their risk of suffering a stroke by taking aspirin or warfarin, an anticoagulant medication," Dr. Hart said. "Now we hope to define exactly which combination of medications in which dosages is best for each individual patient."

The national Breast Cancer Prevention Trial has enrolled 8,000 women nationwide - half of those needed to complete the study.

Led by Anatolio B. Cruz, Jr., MD, Health Science Center professor of surgery, the project is the first large-scale breast cancer prevention trial in the world.

"Women age 35 and older who are at increased risk for developing breast cancer based on family history and other factors are eligible to participate," Dr. Cruz said.