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Improving Patient Outcomes

When dealing with the troubling news of a personal cancer diagnosis, or the diagnosis of a loved one, it is heartening to know that there is an army of medical researchers who are working to improve outcomes for patients with cancer.

Dr. Rana McKay, a medical oncologist from the University of California, San Diego is one such researcher. As an oncologist and researcher, Dr. McKay spends part of her time in the clinic treating patients and part of her time researching prostate cancer. By having a foot in both patient care and research Dr. McKay has a keen eye on the latest developments in prostate cancer therapy.

“Not one recipe fits for every single patient,” says Dr. McKay. “It requires a skilled understanding of the risk of disease that somebody has to help decide what’s the best treatment and what’s the best path forward.”

This idea, that prostate cancer is not one disease, is very important in choosing the right treatment for the right patient. Rather, prostate cancer is many diseases, and your prostate cancer may require a very different course of treatment than the person sitting across from you in the oncologist’s waiting room. For example, genomic testing for mutations in DNA repair genes can be used to inform whether immune checkpoint inhibitors might be effective in a patient with advanced prostate cancer. Such “precision medicine” targets treatments towards patients who are most likely to benefit, and avoids the side effects and costs for patients who are less likely to be helped by a particular drug.

This may seem like a daunting idea, and it does present challenges to doctors and researchers like Dr. McKay. But the optimism lies in the fact that thanks to these physician-scientists, and to generous donations from people like yourself, we have been able to create a multitude of treatment options that can be applied to different patients’ particular kinds of prostate cancer.

We’re not at a point where we have a treatment that is sure to successfully treat every type of prostate cancer, but we are getting closer to that every day.

As Dr. McKay states, “The Prostate Cancer Foundation has funded multiple clinical trials and studies of therapeutic agents that have ultimately ended up back in the clinic to help improve outcomes for patients. Drugs like enzalutamide, abiraterone, PARP inhibitors, immunotherapy, these drugs are making their way into clinic really because of the work that the Prostate Cancer Foundation has done.”

Enzalutamide, abiraterone, PARP inhibitors, and immunotherapy are treatments that are saving men’s lives every day. We are incredibly proud to support doctors like Rana McKay who dedicate their lives to improving and saving the lives of patients. Ultimately it is their research that provides treatment and hope to those diagnosed with prostate cancer.

About Aaron Gomez

Photo of Aaron Gomez
Aaron Gomez is the Video and Content Producer for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Aaron writes and produces weekly blogs and original videos that work to inform and inspire.