Renowned Oncologist Joins James P. Wilmot Cancer Center

When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, her treatment options are plentiful. There's chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and a variety of hormonal therapies. But what is the best choice? Creates Program to Study Outcomes of Cancer and Cancer Treatment

May 09, 2003

When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, her treatment options are plentiful. There's chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and a variety of hormonal therapies. But what is the best choice?

That's not an easy decision and it's more complicated than simply destroying the cancer. Women and their oncologists must consider the toxicity of treatment and the costs - both in dollars and quality of life during and after treatment. And that's the difficult assessment for many doctors and patients.

The James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center has recruited a specialist to launch a special program to study those issues and provide some clarity for healthcare providers and patients.

Gary Lyman, M.D., M.P.H., a renowned oncologist, has joined the Wilmot Cancer Center to lead the health services and outcomes research program, which provides a comprehensive evaluation of new and standard technologies and treatments.

Lyman is an oncologist specializing in breast cancer and supportive care and was previously director of the Albany Medical Center's Cancer Center and Research Institute. He has also served as head of the Center for Health Outcomes and Pharmacoeconomic Research and professor of biometry and statistics at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health.

"Dr. Lyman is an outstanding clinician and researcher, and his talents complement and broaden our cancer center expertise," says Richard I. Fisher, M.D., director, James P. Wilmot Cancer Center and director of cancer services, Strong Health.

Lyman's research goes beyond the traditional results of clinical trails. Researchers study a new drug's impact on a patient's quality of life and its costs - both in dollars and in each year of life a patient gains after treatment, said Lyman, director of biostatistics and associate director for health services and outcomes research at the Wilmot Cancer Center.

"The primary interest in clinical research has always been the clinical response to treatment and patient survival," said Lyman. "Health-outcomes research broadens the evaluation of new treatments to include as their impact on quality of life on individuals as well as the economic consequences to both individuals and society."

The high cost of new drugs and their many side effects make it essential to fully understand the impact of their use, Lyman said. This approach is particularly important when a patient has several cancer treatment options, but the toxicity and costs vary dramatically.

Health outcomes research often culminates in the development of clinical practice guidelines to aid clinicians and policymakers to select the best therapeutic choices.

For example, he recently presented results of research on the use of sentinel node biopsies in breast cancer at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. His findings will force oncologists and surgeons to consider whether this technique of determining whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes is as effective as earlier thought.

Fisher recruited Lyman to help meet the growth the Wilmot Cancer Center is experiencing and to expand its research programs. This is the first of more than a dozen additional clinician/scientists expected to join the center in the next 18 months.

Lyman received his medical degree from SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine and completed his residency at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill. He received a master of public health degree in biostatistics from Harvard University School of Public Health.

The Buffalo native completed his clinical fellowship in hematology/oncology at Roswell Park Memorial Institute, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University. Before joining the Albany center two years ago, Lyman was visiting professor of biostatistics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Prior to that, Lyman served as the founding chief of medicine at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida, where he was also professor of medicine and professor of epidemiology and biostatistics.

Lyman is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh), the American College of Physicians, the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, and the American College of Preventive Medicine. He is a member of numerous professional societies, including the American Society of Hematology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). He is a member of the Health Services Research Committee of ASCO and senior editor of the journal Evidence Based Oncology.

His areas of research interest include the design and analysis of controlled clinical trials, health outcomes research, including economic analysis and quality-of-life assessments, clinical and public health decision-making, and mathematical and statistical modeling. He is the author of approximately 200 journal articles, technical reports, monographs, textbooks and book chapters and serves as co-editor of the major textbook: Comprehensive Geriatric Oncology, now in its third edition.

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