Oct 18, 2018 8:00 AM


For most men, hearing the news they have prostate cancer will likely bring feelings of worry and concern for the future. What many men don’t expect is the uncertainty they may feel when deciding how to treat their prostate cancer. Surgery, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, watchful waiting, or a combination of these treatments are all options for patients with prostate cancer.

Many complex factors influence treatment decisions. That’s why St. John’s Medical Center (SJMC), an affiliate of Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and University of Utah Health (U of U Health), focused its 2018 Cancer Summit on the latest advances in prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Jonathan Tward, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the department of radiation oncology at the University of Utah and an investigator at HCI, spoke at the summit to educate Jackson, Wyoming, community members about using molecular testing and advanced imaging to guide treatment choices for prostate cancer.

“Treatment options for prostate cancer are based on a patient’s risk group,” Tward explained. “But the tests we use to put people in low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk groups are based on subjective interpretation of results. So how do we take subjectivity out of the process?”

Tward discussed the advanced imaging that allows doctors to find difficult prostate cancers and more effectively biopsy them. In addition, several new molecular tests help doctors determine the right risk group for a patient. These advances, combined with consultation with the patient’s multidisciplinary care team, can help make treatment choices less subjective and less overwhelming to the patient. The care team and patient can use the information from advanced imaging and testing to come up with a consensus plan.

“In the end, the best treatment for a patient is not any one treatment. Everyone is an individual. We have to ask a patient what their goals are,” Tward said.

A panel of experts in oncology, radiology and imaging, urology, and surgery followed Tward’s talk to discuss local services and coordination of care for patients in Jackson. Patients benefit from cutting-edge local care and SJMC’s relationship with HCI, said Ted Morgan, MD, a urologist at SJMC. “The nice thing for us in Jackson is to have top facilities, regional experts, and national experts close enough that we can work together as a team.”

HCI’s collaboration with SJMC goes back more than 15 years, when John H. Ward, MD, a professor of oncology at HCI and the University of Utah, began treating patients there. At the 2018 Cancer Summit, Dr. Ward was recognized for his contributions to the Jackson community. St. John’s Medical Center Cancer Pavilion was recently dedicated in honor of Dr. Ward, and a gift from Dr. Emmy Knobloch created the Dr. John Ward Oncology Fund at the St. John’s Hospital Foundation.

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