TAMPA, Fla. – Moffitt Cancer Center is looking to our nation’s veterans to help study and develop new therapies to treat cancer. The cancer center has partnered with Bay Pines VA Healthcare System and James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital to expand its clinical research to include veterans being treated at the two Tampa Bay area VA facilities.

The first study stemming from the partnership opened earlier this year. Moffitt expanded its VanDAAM study, which stands for Validation of Decipher® Test in African American Men with Prostate Cancer, to both VA facilities. 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.

“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 Kosj Yamoah, M.D., Ph.D., Principal Investigator of the VanDAAM study and Section Head of Genitourinary Radiation Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center. 

Retired Army Combat Engineer Anthony Peterson was one of the first veterans at Bay Pines to sign up for the expanded VanDAAM 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, helpful to his medical 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.”

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is a Top 10 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 6,500 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.4 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube