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Hines VA Hospital and Loyola University Chicago physician awarded $8.6M VA research grant

Dr. Abhishek Solanki, an Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine Physician Researcher, received an $8.6 million merit grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research and Development, to study new treatments for metastatic prostate cancer, or cancer that has spread outside of the prostate.

Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed cancer among Veterans, comprising 30% of new cancer diagnoses in the VA Healthcare System. The study, named VA STARPORT, seeks to determine if adding positron emission tomography (PET)-directed radiation or surgery improves cancer control compared to standard medication therapy alone for Veterans with oligorecurrent prostate cancer. Oligorecurrent prostate cancer has been treated with surgery or radiation but returns in limited body areas.

“New treatments are needed to help improve the survival rates of Veterans with metastatic prostate cancer, and promising evidence suggests that men with oligorecurrent prostate cancer may benefit from further radiation or surgery to these areas,” said Solanki, principal investigator. “However, the benefit is unknown when Veterans are receiving the standard medication therapy, which is usually comprised of hormonal therapy with or without chemotherapy. Our study will definitely determine if adding radiation or surgery to the areas of spread in Veterans receiving hormonal or chemohormonal therapy reduces the chance of further cancer growth.”

VA STARPORT also will study differences in patterns of cancer progression, survival and quality of life. Additionally, investigators will study whether specific tumor mutations can predict if Veterans will benefit from combining standard medication therapy with PET-directed radiation or surgery.

Investigators will conduct the multi-institutional phase II/III randomized trial at 16 VA health care facilities throughout the United States.

“Our thanks to the Department of Veterans Affairs for its significant investment in this critical, potentially life-saving work,” said Dr. William Small, Jr., professor and chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, Stritch School of Medicine, and director, Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. “Key outcomes from these trials may help inform additional approaches to managing other cancers.”

“VA and our Loyola University Chicago partners are committed to providing the best patient care to our nation’s Veterans,” said Hines VA Hospital Director James Doelling. “Prostate cancer affects thousands each year. If this study develops a treatment that can save the life of just one Veteran, then we’ve done our job.”

VA STARPORT was developed with the VA Cooperative Studies Program and represents the collaboration of multidisciplinary experts in prostate cancer, clinical trial design and Veteran health care.

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