Charles A. Coltman, M.D., M.M.S., was a medical oncologist dedicated to improving the lives of cancer patients through the science of clinical trials. He made his mark in cancer prevention when he guided the SWOG Research Base to undertake two large trials aimed at averting prostate cancer in healthy men: the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) and SELECT (Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial).
Dr. Coltman was first an Air Force physician, and his military training and service was reflected in his focus and leadership. He believed clinical trials were the best path to improving cancer prevention and therapy. He joined SWOG, then known as the Southwest Oncology Group, in 1967, and was a member when the National Cancer Act of 1971 created the cooperative group networks of clinical oncologists for conducting trials.
He retired from the Air Force in 1977, turning his focus fully to cancer research at what is now the University of Texas Health San Antonio. Dr. Coltman started his 24 years as group chair of SWOG in 1981. A few years later, NCI began its community clinical trials program and he helped SWOG become a research leader in the program, a position the group has held continuously since then. His own research focus was on blood cancers, winning awards for this work.
Through his leadership of the PCPT, a drug used to shrink the enlarged prostate was shown to reduce the development of prostate cancer by 25%. With a biorepository and patient linkage to Medicare, the trial continues to provide valuable insight into the many challenges of prostate cancer screening and treatment.
Among many other lasting efforts, Dr. Coltman in 1978 was one of the founders of a modest regional symposium on breast cancer that became the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, an international state-of-the-art meeting on prevention and treatment of breast cancer and premalignant disease.
To learn more about Dr. Coltman, read this article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and this memorial story from his University of Texas Health San Antonio.