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Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

National Cancer Institute



Ian Thompson, M.D., graduated from West Point, the military academy of the U.S. Army, and served in the Middle East as a general surgeon in a combat support hospital during Operation Desert Shield/Storm in the early 1990s.

Yet he is best known as a urologic oncologist who led the 25-year prostate cancer study involving almost 19,000 men, the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT). Early in his career, Dr. Thompson had recognized the tremendous impact that prostate cancer and its treatment had on men’s lives and saw the benefit that could come from identifying a drug to prevent the cancer and its consequences. In 1993, Dr. Thompson led the randomized study, one of the largest prostate cancer prevention studies conducted to date. Results from the study showed that a common hormone-blocking drug that was used to treat prostate enlargement and male-pattern baldness, finasteride, reduced the risk of prostate cancer in men over the age of 55.

In a 2018 interview, Dr. Thompson called PCPT one of the most complicated trials ever launched. Finasteride has the ability to both reduce the risk of prostate cancer by up to 30% and improve the likelihood of detecting cancer in a biopsy because the prostate is smaller. Follow-up of PCPT participants has provided important information about the natural progression of the disease for more than 25 years. The PCPT was a trial of SWOG Cancer Research Network.

Dr. Thompson was also a long-term leader of the San Antonio Center for Biomarkers of Risk of Prostate Cancer, a cohort study within the NCI Early Detection Research Network (EDRN). He also served as chair of EDRN.

Dr. Thompson is now leader of the Friends of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Foundation and the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Foundation and was formerly President of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center. To learn more about Dr. Thompson, read this Q&A.