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Integrating Research into Cure: studies presented at ASTRO

Integrating Research into Cure: studies presented at ASTRO

The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) held its annual meeting from September 24-28 in Boston, and our center was well represented with our faculty delivering a number of invited research presentations. The research presented focused on our early clinical experience with re-irradiation. A significant ongoing clinical problem in cancer care is how to manage a patient who experiences an in-field recurrence of their disease after initial radiation treatment. These patients often have limited treatment options, as a second course of radiation with X-rays may delivery excessive doses of radiation to the surrounding normal tissue and surgery is not likely to be an option. Protons offer a unique treatment option for these patients due to their dosimetric properties. Our center is one of a few proton centers with a clinical trial specifically examining the question of re-irradiation.

We also presented research from our physics group on how to optimally image patients to track changes in tumor location and patient anatomy during a course of proton treatment. This work answers a critical question in proton beam delivery which demands millimeter-precise localization of the tumor in order to be maximally effective. Our group presented an imaging approach that provides that critical localization information that is required for proton beam radiation while simultaneously improving the efficiency of obtaining this information and minimizing radiation dose exposure for our patients.

Finally, one potential use of proton beam radiotherapy is to increase the radiation dose delivered when treating a subset of resistant cancers. When using conventional radiation, there are times where the maximal dose that can be safely delivered to a resistant tumor located near a sensitive vital organ is inadequate. Our group presented data using protons to safely increase the dose delivered to a subset of tumors that would allow for greater efficacy while simultaneously limiting the potential harm to the surrounding tissues.

Our vision for the SCCA Proton Therapy Center is to provide leading-edge proton therapy and our representation at the ASTRO Annual meeting underscores the esteem in which the care delivered here is held by our colleagues around the world.