Dr. E. David Crawford's concern for prostate cancer patients, and hope for their futures, began during his days at UC.
“I will never forget the first day and how proud I was to be a student,” the Queen City native and McMicken College of Arts and Sciences alumnus recalls. “I remember the great basketball teams, and the outstanding faculty.”
More than that, however, a brief chat with this nationally recognized prostate cancer expert reveals there’s no question that what he remembers first and foremost, always, are the patients whose lives he fights to change. A professor of surgery and radiation oncology and head of the section of urologic oncology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Dr. Crawford is also the associate director of the University of Colorado Comprehensive Cancer Center. Since 1990, he has served as chairman of the Prostate Cancer Education Council.
|UC alumnus Dr. E. David Crawford, right, consults with a patient.|
“When I see a man who came in too late for us to save him and the resulting impact on his family it renews my resolve to help raise the education on prostate cancer, to continue to reverse the statistics from an advanced disease to an early detection/survivable disease. Many patients are a great inspiration to me. The patients and their families put in so much to fight their cancer; they often work as a team family unit to take on the fight. It is always amazing for me to meet so many amazing patients who can keep a positive outlook on life while facing a life-threatening challenge.”
Crawford’s empathy for patients began as a teenager, as he helped his parents by working in the nursing home they managed. As an orderly, he recalls, he watched the doctors and “liked the way they made differences in the lives of their patients.” And as a student at UC, he was drawn to the “diverse nature” of his eventual specialty while working for an urologist – he felt, he notes, “like we were able to help every patient we worked with in some way. This is when I knew I was going to work in the urology field.”
His passion is still great: “It is amazing to be a part of the progression of detection, treatment and options we have for patients now,” says Crawford, an award-winning doctor who has co-authored or authored more than 400 articles and made several TV appearances regarding the topic of prostate cancer. “The field of urology is much different that it was even 10 years ago, and the future will bring even more changes to improve patient outcomes, treatments and quality of life.
On the personal side: An avid golfer, he says the perfect vacation, taken with his wife, would include golf “every day, at some of my favorite courses.” He doesn’t get back to Cincinnati as often as he would like, but when he does, he always stops for Skyline, White Castle and Graeter’s ice cream outings. Back at work: Patient care is where he spends the bulk of his time, “followed closely by research, teaching and lecturing across the country and then administrative work.”
The Prostate Cancer Education Council’s work is personally and professionally fulfilling for this proud UC alumnus. Since the council was founded in 1988, he notes, “the number of deaths from prostate cancer has significantly decreased and the number of advanced cancer cases has decreased from more than 70 percent to less than 10 percent. More states mandate insurance companies to pay for screening and the detection methods for diagnosing prostate cancer have improved dramatically. But even though we have screened more than 3 million men for the disease and had some incredibly successful awareness programs we still have work to be done. There are still approximately 30,000 men dying from the disease because their cancer wasn’t found early enough! Perhaps our biggest obstacles are, of course, as a non-profit, funding. Raising money is always a challenge and limiting factor.”
And there’s still the challenge of getting men to talk and listen to information about the disease. Very famous men – including one making a run for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination – have helped, he says.
“We have to get them to listen to understand that treatments have changed, their fears of incontinence and impotence are not as great as they once where, and that being around for their family is much more important,” he concludes. “Men like Rudy Giuliani, Norman Schwarzkopf and most recently, Gen. Colin Powell, have done a wonderful job of bringing the cause into the forefront of men’s minds, and sharing with them that it is important to address it and face it before there any symptoms of the disease! We have also worked hard to educate women on prostate cancer. Women are the primary health care decision makers in most American families and a significant reason men participate in prostate cancer screenings.”