In memoriam: Thomas A. Stamey, MD (1928 – 2015)

Your sitemaster has just learned of the death, on September 15, this year, of Tom Stamey, formerly professor and  first chairman of the department of urology at Stanford University, California.

We don’t do this very often, but Tom was one of a very small number of physicians who, quite inadvertently, was a “founding father” of the original Prostate Cancer InfoLink and its re-introduction in 2008 as The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink. A complete and detailed memorial to Tom has been provided by Linda Shortliffe, MD, in the November issue of the AUA News.

I first met Tom Stamey in 1989, but I got to know him well when he was the meeting chairman and main speaker at a two-day course on developments in the management of prostate cancer that I helped to organize for members of the urology community at Pebble Beach, California, in 1991. We put many such courses together over the next 4 years, and as I sat in these meetings listening to Tom and his colleagues discuss the evolving data on the use of PSA testing, the role of systematic biopsies, and the role of transrectal ultrasound in the conduct of such biopsies (among a vast range of other related topics), I accumulated a detailed layman’s appreciation of the complexities to the diagnosis and the management of prostate cancer, long before the development of any of the forms of effective treatment for men who went on to progress after androgen deprivation therapy.

It was because of Tom and a few of his other colleagues that when Netscape was launched in late 1994 I had the relevant knowledge and I immediately saw the potential to be able to inform and educate newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients about prostate cancer, its diagnosis, and the fact that they had choices when it came to treatment of this condition, and so I started the InfoLink site as one of the very earliest, detailed, patient-directed web sites dealing with a specific form of cancer. Tom Stamey’s famous pathology colleague (the late John McNeal, MD) was kind enough to provide me with pathology slides showing the different Gleason grades that I believe were some of the earliest pathology photographs on the web.

I am not going to list all of Tom’s accomplishments here — they were way too numerous. Suffice it to say that not only did he help to demonstrate the early potential value of the PSA test back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was also — controversially — the first leading urologist to point out that its value as a tool to identify risk for prostate cancer had changed radically by 2004 (when far fewer men were being identified with high PSA levels) and that the value of the PSA test as a means to screen for risk for prostate cancer was itself becoming very controversial — which it most certainly has.

Sadly, shortly after he published that article in 2004, Tom started to succumb seriously to progressive Alzheimer’s disease. I am honored to have known him well for the best part of 15 years. Without Tom and a few others, the InfoLink would never have come to life.

One Response

  1. I did not know Dr. Stamey. However I am very grateful to him for having been a part of founding this site.

    This site and specifically Mike have been extremely helpful to me on my journey with prostate cancer.

    God speed Dr. Stamey.

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