In 1999, Bud Comes of Hancock got the diagnosis that no one wants to hear. He had prostate cancer and he was told he only had a 30 percent chance of beating it.
"That was pretty shocking news," Comes said. "I went through all the emotion someone goes through when they are diagnosed with cancer."
He says he seesawed between anger and sadness but decided on one thing.
"I was going to beat it one way or the other," Comes said.
Two years after his prostate was removed, his cancer came back and radiation treatment was the only solution. It made him a perfect candidate for a study.
"That was what we were looking for," said Dr. Richard Lovett, a radiation oncologist at the Rutland Regional Medical Center.
Lovett has been by Comes' side since his diagnosis. Lovett was a lead investigator for a study on how patients with recurring prostate cancer are treated. Comes was one of 840 cancer patients from around the country selected to participate.
"I just went with the study and hoped for the best," he said.
About half received radiation treatment as normal, the other half received the same radiation but with an additional treatment: anti-androgen therapy.
"What we looked at was could we give patients two years of antiandrogen therapy-- in essence, putting them in medapause temporarily," Lovett said. "Would that give better results than radiation alone?"
After five years of treatment and analyzing, the additional therapy was found to have improved patients' survival rates.
Although Comes has never been told if he received the placebo or the actual therapy, Lovett is almost certain. Comes is now cancer-free.
"I'm pleased I was part of it," Comes said.
Lovett's work was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Because of this study, anti-androgen therapy is also now standard treatment.
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