‘The Club of Distinguished Prostates’ – The Bowery Series
Author(s):
Mr David Thurtle
,
Mr David Thurtle
Affiliations:
Mr Paul Lloyd
,
Mr Paul Lloyd
Affiliations:
Mr Vincent Gnanapragasam
Mr Vincent Gnanapragasam
Affiliations:
BAUS ePoster online library. Lloyd P. 06/27/17; 177385; P5-4
Mr. Paul Lloyd
Mr. Paul Lloyd
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Abstract
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Introduction
From 1951 Perry Hudson investigated prostate cancer using the homeless and destitute of The Bowery, Manhattan. An article revisiting the story in 2013 led to widespread press coverage and criticism.

Methods
A non-systematic literature search was performed on Hudson, the Bowery series and the Skid Row cancer study. Online medical and popular literature sources were used.

Results
After training at Johns Hopkins, the talented young Hudson(33) was appointed Head of Urology at Francis Delamere Hospital in New York. Responsible for ‘a floor full of laboratories’ he initiated an ambitious prostate cancer research programme, to assess prevalence and test his belief that an early form of the disease could be curable. The destitute of Bowery ‘flop houses’ were ideal recruits, without pre-existing prostate symptomology and easily persuaded to participate, for the promise of a clean bed, food and ‘being called Mister.’ A contemporaneous social commentary reports men were “delighted at being accepted into the club of distinguished prostates”!

Patients underwent extensive investigations with over 1000 undergoing open perineal biopsies. Perineal prostatectomy, orchidectomy and oestrogen treatments followed if cancer was found – a non-standard combination at the time. No evidence of written consent is recorded, nor it’s thought, were potential risks explained. Nonetheless, results were published and cited widely. Hudson’s biggest contribution being that early, treatable, cancer was detectable by biopsy.

Conclusions
Compared to modern research governance and consenting practices the series is easily condemned as unethical. However, this story highlights the blurred line in medical history between treatment and experimentation.
Introduction
From 1951 Perry Hudson investigated prostate cancer using the homeless and destitute of The Bowery, Manhattan. An article revisiting the story in 2013 led to widespread press coverage and criticism.

Methods
A non-systematic literature search was performed on Hudson, the Bowery series and the Skid Row cancer study. Online medical and popular literature sources were used.

Results
After training at Johns Hopkins, the talented young Hudson(33) was appointed Head of Urology at Francis Delamere Hospital in New York. Responsible for ‘a floor full of laboratories’ he initiated an ambitious prostate cancer research programme, to assess prevalence and test his belief that an early form of the disease could be curable. The destitute of Bowery ‘flop houses’ were ideal recruits, without pre-existing prostate symptomology and easily persuaded to participate, for the promise of a clean bed, food and ‘being called Mister.’ A contemporaneous social commentary reports men were “delighted at being accepted into the club of distinguished prostates”!

Patients underwent extensive investigations with over 1000 undergoing open perineal biopsies. Perineal prostatectomy, orchidectomy and oestrogen treatments followed if cancer was found – a non-standard combination at the time. No evidence of written consent is recorded, nor it’s thought, were potential risks explained. Nonetheless, results were published and cited widely. Hudson’s biggest contribution being that early, treatable, cancer was detectable by biopsy.

Conclusions
Compared to modern research governance and consenting practices the series is easily condemned as unethical. However, this story highlights the blurred line in medical history between treatment and experimentation.
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