Dr. Pedro Barata, medical oncologist specializing in genitourinary cancers, says improving access to care is just one of several goals he has to expand Tulane's GU Program.
"My goal is to see a patient in clinic within 48-72 hours of their initial call," said Pedro Barata, MD, Tulane Cancer Center's new medical oncologist specializing in genitourinary cancers. "We need to be available to our patients, especially those facing a cancer diagnosis. It's what they need. Access to care is key, and there's just so much more we can do to help improve their experience. That's my top priority."
Barata actually has a long list of priorities, all aimed at further developing the regional presence of Tulane's Genitourinary Cancers Program, and he has hit the ground running to implement them since his recent arrival.
"Patients from Louisiana should know that we can offer them options right here at home that are beyond the standard of care," said Barata.
With the approval of novel immunotherapies, there have been recent dramatic changes in the management of bladder cancer, according to Barata. He and his team have taken advantage of that momentum and have cherry-picked clinical trials to offer here at Tulane for every stage of the disease. These are currently in the internal approval process, and he hopes to be able to offer them as alternatives to standard of care to eligible patients in the near future.
"If you come with localized bladder cancer and need neo-adjuvant treatment, we will have a clinical trial for you as an alternative," said Barata. "If you've been treated with surgery, have metastatic disease, or fail immunotherapy, we will have clinical trials to offer you as alternatives as well."
Access to clinical trials is one of the benefits of getting your cancer care in an academic setting, like Tulane, according to Barata. "Clinical research allows us to study novel therapies or combinations of treatments that already exist and try to prove that these are better than the standard of care, and if they are, they get approved as the new standard of care. So patients enrolled in clinical trials have opportunities to receive novel therapies before they get approved. Not all community cancer centers do this. A top-notch research team who know how to navigate a complex infrastructure to support these efforts is paramount, and that's what we offer here."
Dr. Barata also implemented genetic testing for every bladder and kidney cancer patient he sees. "Genetic markers that are revealed through testing may have a significant impact on the way we treat the disease," he said. "It won't impact 100% of our cases, but if it impacts 10-15%, that makes a huge difference. We won't know if we don't test, and that's why it's important."
According to the American Cancer Society, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men; it is less common in women. Although incidence rates have been dropping in recent years, still about 80,500 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2019, and approximately 17,700 people will die from bladder cancer this year.
Barata says it's a disease where multidisciplinary care really matters. "You need strong urology, medical oncology and radiation oncology teams all working closely together," he said. "Drs. Raju Thomas, Jonathan Silberstein, Spencer Krane from Urology; Oliver Sartor from Medical Oncology, and Kendra Harris from Radiation Oncology are among the best in the business. This excellent team was definitely one of the reasons why I decided to join Tulane."
Dr. Barata is currently accepting new patients. Please call 504-988-7444 to schedule an appointment.
For more information on Tulane Cancer Center news and events, please contact:
Melanie N. Cross
Manager of Communications
Tulane Cancer Center
1430 Tulane Ave., Box 8668
New Orleans, LA 70112