Take Charge

Moffitt Bringing Research to Local VA Hospitals

November 12, 2019

Veterans Healthcare

By Kim Polacek

A new partnership between Moffitt Cancer Center and two Tampa Bay area Department of Veterans Affairs facilities could help better predict aggressive prostate cancer in African American men. Researcher and radiation oncologist Dr. Kosj Yamoah has expanded his VanDAAM study, which stands for Validation of Decipher® Test in African American Men with Prostate Cancer, to Bay Pines VA Healthcare System and James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.

The study is open to men with low and intermediate-risk newly diagnosed prostate cancer. Participants have samples of their biopsy tumor tissue analyzed to determine how aggressive the disease may be and, in turn, that information can be used by physicians to assist with treatment and follow-up recommendations.

Dr. Kosj Yamoah, radiation oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center

“We know that African American men tend to have a more aggressive form of prostate cancer that also leads to a higher number of deaths from the disease. We are hoping the Decipher test can help identify the aggressive disease ahead of time, allowing physicians to identify the appropriate treatment from the beginning and improve patient survival,” said Yamoah.

Retired Army Combat Engineer Anthony Peterson was one of the first veterans at Bay Pines to sign up for the study. “If there is anything I can do to help another veteran, I’ll do it. This study is a great opportunity for me to give back,” said Peterson. “If what they learn from my study can help someone else out, then I’m all for it.”

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in July 2018, Peterson received radiation and hormone therapy and is now in remission. He found the study, which includes a blood draw and completion of three surveys, beneficial to his overall care.

“The questionnaires I filled out as part of the study are actually very helpful. It caused me to think about things that needed to be addressed with my doctor and have helped me with becoming more aware of the symptoms I was having,” said Peterson.

“We have had a good response from prostate cancer patients who have been asked to participate in this study. Our veterans are always willing to help one another. This study allows them to get valuable information about their own cancer and treatment options, but also can impact future prostate cancer patients,” said Ryan J. Burri, M.D., radiation oncologist at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System. “We look forward to partnering on more studies with Moffitt in the future.”

Moffitt is currently working with Bay Pines VA Healthcare System and James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital to establish an infrastructure that will allow for the cancer center to offer more research studies and clinical trials in the future. The institutions have already received some funding to accelerate this endeavor, with the first area of focus being prostate cancer.

“While there have been several advances in the treatment of prostate cancer, more can be done to bring new therapy options to patients more quickly,” said Cesar E. Ercole, M.D., board certified urologist at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital. “Our partnership with Moffitt will give veterans in and around the Tampa Bay area increased access to cutting-edge therapies that are currently in development to treat this disease.”