UW Health Urologist Motivated by Progress, Opportunity
Madison, Wisconsin - Last fall another outstanding cancer specialist, E. Jason Abel, MD, joined UW Health's Department of Urology.
After completing urology residency training at the University of Utah, Dr. Abel completed a urologic oncology fellowship at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where he received extensive training in the latest treatments for all urologic cancers, including high volumes of robotic surgeries and complex open cases.
Dr. Abel is a strong researcher whose focus will be on renal cancer, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin's talented team of physicians and scientists.
"One of the great things about being at UW is having a multidisciplinary team of cancer experts at our fingertips," says Dr. Abel. "Urology, radiology, radiation oncology, medical oncology and pathology all work cooperatively at the Carbone Cancer Center to identify and implement the most effective treatment for each patient."
Dr. Abel joined forces with pharmacologist Shigeki Miyamoto, MD, to study cellular growth pathways in renal cancer with the goal to further characterize the molecular biology involved in kidney cancer growth and metastasis, leading to new prognostic tests and development of new therapies.
Dr. Abel's clinical research encompasses all stages of renal cancer. He is collaborating with genitourinary pathologists on localized kidney cancer to analyze malignant tissue micro-arrays and identify new prognostic factors for guiding treatment. For locally-advanced disease and metastatic disease, he's studying neoadjuvant approaches, which involve shrinking tumors before surgery to improve outcomes. He was the lead author of a publication in European Urology titled "Primary Tumor Response to Targeted Agents in Patients with Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma."
"Renal cancer is especially challenging because it does not present symptoms in early stages, and has few clear risk factors," Dr. Abel explains. "In the past 10 years, there has been tremendous progress. Our understanding of the biology of kidney cancer has really grown. We have become very good at treating local disease-preserving kidney function while maintaining quality-of-life. In advanced cases, we must continue to be aggressive because of the progressive nature of the disease."
As understanding of the tumor biology of kidney cancer has grown, so have options for treatment.
"Minimally-invasive nephron-sparing surgery, ablation and surveillance are all options which offer different benefits for selected patients," explains Dr. Abel. "For small renal masses, robotic partial nephrectomy is moving toward becoming the gold standard because it improves quality-of-life. Other benefits of the robotic surgery include smaller incisions and shorter recovery time."
Clinicians now have the ability to gain important information prior to surgery through biopsy and improved imaging. Consequently, some patients are spared surgery while more aggressive treatments are employed for others. Dr. Abel individualizes treatment for each patient, presenting options, so the patient can choose the best approach from his or her unique perspective. Tools for evaluating the risk of growth or recurrence have become more sophisticated, as have those for follow-up and ongoing management.
Dr. Abel is inspired by the progress achieved in recent years, and is driven by the opportunity to significantly improve outcomes for this difficult disease.
"Even in patients with advanced metastatic cancer, there have been significant advances. A decade ago there were virtually no effective treatments. Now we have several options which extend life span but are not curative," says Dr. Abel. "We still have a long way to go, and we are working hard to make new advances. It's an exciting time to be working in kidney cancer."
Date Published: 04/19/2011