April 20, 2001
Volume XXXIV, No. 16


Of Note


SABOR study to shed light on prostate cancer

photo of video message Dr. Ian Thompson (right), surgery/urology, and Dr. Sudhir Srivastava of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) give a video message about SABOR - the San Antonio Center of Biomarkers of Risk for Prostate Cancer. SABOR is part of the NCI's Early Detection Research Network.

An important study to improve the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer was unveiled this spring at the Health Science Center. Investigators have begun enrolling the first of 10,000 area men for the trial coordinated by the San Antonio Center of Biomarkers of Risk for Prostate Cancer (SABOR).

"Cancer that is confined to the prostate is generally curable, so the men who die from prostate cancer die from metastatic disease," said prostate cancer researcher Dr. Ian Thompson, chief of the UTHSC division of urology in the department of surgery. "The real question is, can we do something to make a difference? Is there a blood test that will find the disease in the prostate before it spreads?"

SABOR will look for molecular signatures that indicate a man's likelihood of developing prostate cancer and of having it spread. "Ultimately, when a man of 35 or 40 walks into the office and takes a test, we want to be able to say, 'You never have to come back or worry about prostate cancer.' We want to put ourselves out of business," Dr. Thompson said.

Prostate cancer often develops in the outer portion of the prostate, a walnut-sized gland below the bladder and traversing the urethra. The disease usually is not symptomatic until the advanced stages.

Representatives of the military, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and the SABOR Community Advisory Board joined Dr. Thompson and other Health Science Center investigators to speak about the project. "Although the Health Science Center is the principal investigator, this is a community project," Dr. Thompson said.

Males 50 or older are invited to participate. African Americans and other males with a family history of prostate cancer may join the study if they are at least 40. Men who have had prostate cancer are not eligible.

Screenings are held throughout the city at clinics of the University Health System, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center, the Cancer Therapy and Research Center, the University Physicians Group, the Barrio Comprehensive Family Health Center and the Ella Austin Health Center.

Interested individuals are invited to call ext. 7-0214 to set up an appointment at the clinic nearest them. Participants will receive annual screenings with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing and digital rectal exams. The men will complete dietary surveys at enrollment and give blood samples during the five annual visits.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is funding the study as part of its Early Detection Research Network. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore is the only other research site for the prostate cancer project. This program will recruit from all ethnic groups with a focus on over-sampling of underserved and minority populations.

"Dr. Thompson is very dedicated to science and the health process," said visiting scientist Dr. Sudhir Srivastava, chief of the Cancer Biomarkers Research Group in the NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention. "Ian is one of the very valuable assets to the NCI and the nation, and his team is playing a major role in the early detection network."

Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, president, welcomed Drs. Thompson and Srivastava and other distinguished guests to the press briefing announcing SABOR. Co-investigators from the Health Science Center include Drs. Dean Troyer, Alex McMahan, Glen Mott and Thomas Prihoda, pathology, and Drs. Robin Leach and Susan Naylor, cellular and structural biology.