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Catalona receives award for pioneering prostate cancer research

William J. Catalona, M.D., professor of surgery and director of the Division of Urologic Surgery, recently received the 1998 Eugene Fuller Triennial Prostate Award from the American Urological Association.

William J. Catalona

Catalona was recognized for outstanding contributions to prostate gland research, especially pioneering work on blood tests that allow early detection of prostate cancer. The association has given the award once every three years since 1977.

Catalona’s early work suggested the value of testing men’s blood for a circulating protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA); elevated levels can be an indicator of prostate cancer. Screening with the PSA test has become widespread since the early 1990s. And a recent study of 46,000 men in Quebec revealed that annual screening that includes PSA testing greatly reduces prostate cancer deaths.

However, PSA levels also rise due to other factors, such as a noncancerous condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia. As a result, biopsies are recommended to about 9 percent of men receiving the traditional PSA test to determine if they have prostate cancer. Catalona recently led a multicenter trial suggesting the value of using a second PSA test to provide further diagnostic information when a biopsy is being considered.

The additional test measures “free" PSA that is not bound to other proteins in the blood. This form of PSA is present at significantly lower levels in men with prostate cancer than in men who have the benign condition. The study, published in the May 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that the free PSA test detected 95 percent of prostate cancers using a single cutoff value. Recent FDA approval of this test, officially called the Hybritech Free PSA Test, was based partly on the study results.

In addition to other awards, Catalona received the American Urological Association’s Gold Cystoscope Award in 1986 and its Hugh Hampton Young Award in 1994. He is an author or co-author of more than 200 scientific articles, is a past president of the Society of Urologic Oncology and participates in many scientific societies. He also is an editor for Urology, Advances in Urology and World Journal of Urology, and he serves on numerous medical committees.

Please send comments and suggestions to: record@wupa.wustl.edu

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