About Dr. Sartor’s Research
Dr. Oliver Sartor is the C.E. and Bernadine Laborde Professor of Cancer Research in the Departments of Medicine and Urology at Tulane University School of Medicine. He also serves as assistant dean for oncology. He is a world-renowned prostate cancer expert and one of the few medical oncologists in the world to focus on prostate cancer. Combining basic, translational and clinical prostate cancer research and ensuring state-of-the-art clinical treatment have been the major areas of focus throughout his career.
TULANE’S PROSTATE CANCER PROGRAM IS UNPARALLELED Dr. Sartor is the leader of Tulane’s Prostate Cancer Research Program, a world-class team of cancer professionals performing cutting-edge basic and clinical research and running the largest treatment center for prostate cancer patients in Louisiana. Over a thousand prostate cancer patients are treated in Tulane’s clinics each year. In addition to patients from Louisiana, Tulane has cancer patient referrals from 26 additional states and seven countries outside the United States.
Tulane is also at the cutting-edge of groundbreaking basic and clinical research into prostate cancer. Since 2010, seven drugs have received FDA approval for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. Dr. Sartor has been directly involved at a national leadership level – as either principal investigator, co-principal investigator, or chair of the Data Monitoring committee – for five out of the seven. These are the first new treatment options offering hope for men with advanced disease since 2004, and they were only possible through large, multi-institutional clinical research trials. Dr. Sartor is currently leading – as co-principal investigator – another large national trial that might also make a difference. Our goals, of course, are to be even better tomorrow and to continue to build our program. With your help, we are able to do just that.
THE COMPLETE SPECTRUM OF PROSTATE CANCER RESEARCH AND CARE Tulane Cancer Center provides cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation with an emphasis on convenience for our patients and their families and with a team approach to comprehensive prostate cancer care. Our world-class program spans the full spectrum of prostate cancer care – from basic and clinical research to cancer screening and prevention to early detection and diagnosis to the latest treatment options and rehabilitation. Working along-side Dr. Sartor, Tulane’s Prostate Cancer Team includes other world-class clinicians, plus laboratory scientists who study cancer at the molecular level. The ultimate goal is to explore new avenues in the hopes of better understanding cancer and how to cure it.
RESEARCH GRANT FUNDING & PUBLICATION IN PRESTIGIOUS MEDICAL JOURNALS The answer to curing prostate cancer is research and clinical trials. Tulane Cancer Center’s prostate cancer faculty have successfully competed for millions in federal and other research funding in recent months. This is particularly impressive, considering lower federal research budgets and greatly increased competition for these dollars across the United States.
Additionally, Dr. Sartor and his colleagues have had the results of their research published in a number of prestigious, high-impact medical journals. Publication often involves a rigorous peer-review process and once again indicates the importance of their work. Dr. Sartor has published 35 articles or editorials in peer-reviewed medical journals from July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020, including a high-profile and potentially practice-changing article that appeared in the May 28, 2020, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine that reveals for the first time that therapies based on tumor genetics – specifically DNA repair defects – may also show promise in treating some men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. For a complete list of Dr. Sartor’s publications, please visit www.pubmed.gov and enter Sartor O (or Sartor AO) in the search bar.
CLINICAL TRIALS LEAD TO NEW TREATMENT OPTIONS
Tulane offers a variety of clinical research trials for the treatment of prostate cancer. Two international trials in which Dr. Sartor played key roles revealed significant results in 2018.
The first showed that African-American men treated with the immunotherapy drug sipuleucel-T had a median nine-month overall survival advantage compared to Caucasian men with the disease, according to an analysis of 1,900 patients who received the treatment between 2011 and 2013. Dr. Sartor, lead author of the study, presented these data at the 112th American Urological Association annual meeting in Boston last year. “This is the first time that I have ever seen a prostate cancer treatment seemingly work better in African Americans,” said Sartor. “These new findings are very encouraging given that African-American men with prostate cancer have a mortality rate more than twice as high as Caucasian men and historically have presented with aggressive disease and have had worse outcomes in both real-world settings and controlled clinical trials.”
The second study, which was the lead article in the Feb. 2, 2018, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, showed that adding two years of hormonal therapy to radiation treatment significantly improves survival rates for patients whose cancer returned years after surgery to remove the organ. “It more than cut the risk of prostate cancer death in half, which is quite substantial,” said Dr. Sartor. “For the first time, we now have a demonstration that hormonal therapy added to radiation can help save lives for men who have recurrent prostate cancer after surgery. That’s a very big statement.” Dr. Oliver Sartor was co-author of the study and medical oncology chair of the national committee that ran the nearly two decades-long trial. He said the study will likely help shift the standard of care for the approximately 30 percent of prostate cancer patients whose cancer returns.
Additionally, a study published in the February 7, 2019, issue of JAMA Oncology revealed that more than 17 percent of prostate cancer patients are born with genetic variants that can be associated with a higher risk for various cancers. Dr. Sartor was lead author on this study, conducted in conjunction with researchers from the genetics firm Invitae. The research, which is the largest study to date on the genetics of prostate cancer, also found that guidelines for genetic testing at the time of the study missed a substantial number of patients, suggesting broader testing is warranted. “This research shows the genetic risks associated with prostate cancer have been underestimated and provides support for expanding testing to include an increased number of prostate cancer patients,” said Sartor. “Expanding the use of genetic testing in prostate cancer patients can inform treatment strategies and potentially suggest treatment with targeted therapies or clinical trials. In addition, testing can provide valuable information for a patient’s family, allowing for increased screening among those at risk that can potentially help prevent additional cancer deaths.”
The early results of a clinical trial published in the May 28, 2020, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine reveals for the first time that therapies based on tumor genetics – specifically DNA repair defects – may also show promise in treating some men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). “This is important not only because of the potential benefit that patients can receive, but it also represents a conceptual advance based on tumor genetics in terms of selecting therapies that can offer hope for mCRPC patients,” said Dr. Sartor. “With this advance, there will be increasing focus on underlying genetic alterations in tumors and the application of specific therapies based on those alterations – something we call precision oncology. Precision oncology has advanced in other tumors, notably lung and melanoma. This represents the first such advance in prostate cancer, which is practice changing.” Tulane News: Study targeting tumor genetic mutations yields ‘practice changing’ results for prostate cancer treatment