Hopkins Hospital director of urology shares award Prestigious prize honors Walsh for cancer work

June 01, 1996|By Jonathan Bor | Jonathan Bor,SUN STAFF

Dr. Patrick C. Walsh, director of urology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, will share the prestigious Charles F. Kettering Prize for his innovations in prostate cancer surgery.

The award, sponsored by General Motors Corp., is considered a major prize in the field of cancer research. It is given to people who have made the most outstanding contributions to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Walsh will share the award with Dr. Malcolm A. Bagshaw of Stanford University, a radiation oncologist credited with major advances in radiation therapy for prostate cancer. The two, who will split a $100,000 award and each receive a gold medal, will be honored at a ceremony in Washington on June 20.

This is the first time since the award's inception in 1979 that two scientists have shared the prize. Recipients are chosen by a panel of internationally prominent scientists.

"I'm just thrilled to receive it -- it's a very high honor," said Walsh, responding yesterday to a public announcement of the award. "I have great admiration for Dr. Bagshaw, and it's almost a double honor to receive the award along with him."

Working in different specialties, the two made treatments for prostate cancer more effective while sparing men side effects that had made therapies unacceptable to many patients.

Walsh, 57, invented techniques for removing the cancerous prostate without sacrificing, in most cases, the patient's sexual function or urinary control.

He accomplished this by analyzing the complex tissues surrounding the prostate and figuring out how to spare the nerves responsible for erections and the muscles involved in urinary control.

These techniques, adopted by urologists worldwide, have made the radical prostatectomy a front-line option for men in their 50s and 60s whose cancer is confined to the prostate gland.

Bagshaw, 70, is credited with advances that have made radiation therapy a safer and more effective treatment than it once was. His methods also have resulted in low rates of impotence and urinary incontinence.

Radiation is generally recommended for older men with localized prostate cancer, or for men of all ages whose cancer has spread to other tissues.

Pub Date: 6/01/96

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