Thomas A. Stamey, MD, Noted Urologist and Prostate Cancer Expert, Dies at 87

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Thomas A. Stamey, MD

Thomas A. Stamey, MD, Professor Emeritus of Urology at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a leader in the study and treatment of prostate cancer, died of Alzheimer’s disease September 4. He was 87.

A True Pioneer in the Field

Dr. Stamey helped lay the groundwork for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test for prostate cancer and helped transform the scope of research in urology and surgery. In 1989, he became the first urologist ever elected to the Institute of Medicine and was also named an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh.

“Tom Stamey was the founding father of the Stanford Department of Urology and led it for more than 25 years. He was truly one of the giants in academic urology, with his biggest impact in the area of prostate cancer,” said Eila Skinner, MD, present Chair of Urology at Stanford and the Thomas A. Stamey Research Professor in Urology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “His research collaborations…formed the basis of much of what we know about prostate cancer today. He trained over 100 residents and fellows, many of whom went on to be leaders in urology in their own right. His influence on the department will go on for many years to come, and I feel privileged to have known him.”

Dr. Stamey earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University, where he also completed his internship and a residency. He was appointed as Associate Professor of Surgery and Chair of the Division of Urology at Stanford Medical School in 1961. In 1990, he was appointed Founding Chair of the newly created Department of Urology and worked to develop it into one of the top programs in the nation.

PSA Expertise

He was an expert in PSA testing for over 15 years. In the late 1980s, he pioneered the development of the PSA blood test for prostate cancer, which allowed physicians to estimate the risk that a male patient had the disease. In 2004, he published a study showing that the PSA test predicted the size of the patient’s prostate but not necessarily the severity of cancer. Dr. Stamey wrote then, “Our job now is to stop removing every man’s prostate who has prostate cancer. We originally thought we were doing the right thing, but we are now figuring out how we went wrong. Some men need prostate treatment, but certainly not all of them.”

In addition to his wife, Kathryn, Dr. Stamey is survived by his five children and five grandchildren. ■