Prostate & Urologic Cancers

Program Leadership

Daniel George, MD
Director
Andrew Armstrong, MD
Associate Director, Clinical Research
Donald McDonnell, PhD
Assoc. Director, Basic Research

Program Overview

Genitourinary cancers may be the broadest and most common of all malignancies and include everything from the rare but curable testicular cancer to prostate cancer — the most common cancer in men in the United States after skin cancer, and, according to the National Cancer Institute, the second leading cause of death from cancer in men.

Through collaborative multidisciplinary care, education, and clinical, translational, and population research, the Genitourinary Oncology Program is designed to help improve the survival and quality of life of patients.

Our research emphasizes prevention and screening, early diagnosis, and the development of new treatments to improve the overall health of our patients. Many of our studies are looking at targeted treatments and individualized care. Through the support of young and promising scientists, we are making meaningful strides in tackling metastasis and aggressive cancer behavior.

Our team of medical oncologists, urologic surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, cancer biologists and drug developers are also working to bring new discoveries directly to our patients by giving them opportunities to participate in cutting-edge clinical trials. 

Research Focus Areas

Metastasis Biology and Precision Medicine

Metastasis, the spread of cancer beyond the site of origin, accounts for the majority of lethal cancers in the U.S. While we aim to detect cancer early, before it spreads, our laboratory is also focused on understanding the causes of metastasis, and how to target this process to reduce death and suffering from metastatic prostate cancer as well as other genitourinary cancers.

Because each patient’s cancer possesses unique characteristics that allow for a diversity of behaviors and outcomes, we take a personalized approach to determining the best therapies for each patient. Using precision medicine, we study the patient’s urine or blood-based biomarkers, tissue-based biomarkers, and imaging biomarkers, and are then able to individually tailor their treatments.

Immunotherapies for Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer was one of the first cancers to positively respond to immunotherapy treatment; specifically to the drug sipuleucel-T (Provenge). Our researchers played a central role in the development and approval of this agent.

We recognize that this is just the first step toward a cure for men with metastatic disease, and are continuing to take novel approaches to using the immune system to recognize and destroy prostate cancer, including vaccines, immune checkpoint inhibitors and cancer-killing (oncolytic) viruses.

For example, we are currently investigating in our lab how a modified poliovirus, which has shown early success in treating patients with aggressive brain tumors, might also be used to attack prostate cancer cells. Our goal is to bring this to phase one trials soon.  

Biology of Cancer Disparities

The Genitourinary Cancer Program’s extraordinary basic and translational scientists are working in a partnership to better understand the underlying biology of prostate cancer and to improve treatment options.

Researchers at Duke and elsewhere have found that African American men are two times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than white men and three times more likely to die from prostate cancer than white men. Much of this disparity remains even after controlling for factors related to access to care. In fact, we have identified novel biological differences that drive a more aggressive prostate cancer in African American men.

With these differences in mind, we are developing new and better ways to predict the level of aggression of a patient’s prostate cancer and determine which drugs are appropriate for their treatment.  

Ultimately, through our research, we hope to reduce the disproportionate burden of prostate cancer on African Americans and improve clinical outcomes for men of all races with aggressive prostate cancer.

Additional Contacts

Natalie Wilde, Administrative Director
Phone: 919.613.1920

Kelly Mundy, Assistant Research Practice Manager
Phone: 919.681.5684

Clinical Trials

DCI is spearheading clinical trials which are leading to improvements in the treatment of both kidney and prostate cancer, and genitourinary cancer clinical research at Duke also includes a number of investigator-initiated trials, with a focus on locally advanced and metastatic prostate cancer. 

SEARCH OUR CLINICAL TRIALS

Make An Appointment

To make an appointment, please call 888.275.3853. For more information on genitourinary cancer care at Duke Health, visit:

To find a doctor, visit Find A Specialist.