There is national consensus that the approximately 21 million men and women who served in the U.S. military deserve the very best health care available. These veterans have sacrificed so much — life and limb in some cases, health and wellness in many cases — and we, as a nation, owe it to them to provide high-quality, advanced medical care. Only the best for the best.

Answering the call

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to developing new treatment and prevention options and, through rigorous scientific research advances, improving the quality of life for veterans diagnosed with prostate cancer. As evidence, the VA has created a new research partnership with the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

An estimated 12,000 veterans are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. A number of options are available to treat prostate cancer, including medicines and surgical procedures.

Risks of treatment

But some of them come with serious side effects, which can have a significant impact on a veteran’s quality of life. Left untreated, prostate cancer can cause death.

During the next five years, the VA’s partnership will increase the number of clinical trials conducted at Veterans Health Administration hospitals, and encourage veterans to participate in these studies. That way, they can help bring new treatment options to millions of men with prostate cancer around the world.

'“Precision medicine has the potential to bring more individualized, targeted treatments to cancer care.”'

Getting more precise

Precision medicine is the cornerstone of this unique partnership. Precision medicine uses a person’s unique DNA to identify the best treatment option for that individual. In recent years, doctors across the country have used precision medicine techniques to select treatments for lung cancer patients. Precision medicine has the potential to bring more individualized, targeted treatments to cancer care.

The goal is to bring precision medicine to prostate cancer patients, too. We believe the research community is closing in on new treatments, and more targeted therapies will ease the burden of prostate cancer for many patients.

The partnership is an example of a public-private sector partnership, which has the potential to improve health care for veterans by providing access to impactful clinical trials and critical advances in genomics and molecular medicine.

This partnership is modeled after similar, successful programs that expand veterans’ access to a variety of goods and services. This initiative holds great promise in advancing our knowledge about prostate cancer, and, ideally, will result in new treatment options for patients. In short, the VA’s partnership has the potential to be one of the most efficient and effective ways to fulfill our commitment to our veterans, who deserve the best we can offer.