Department of Radiation Oncology

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How Ultrahigh-Dose Radiation Therapy, Interferon, and CAR T Cells May Boost Immunotherapy Effectiveness

(Sept. 25, 2019) The ASCO Post talked with Andy J. Minn, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Mark Foundation Center for Immunotherapy, Immune Signaling, and Radiation at the Abramson Cancer Center, about how these laboratory studies may improve the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy and potentially change treatment paradigms.

Radiation May Lower Potential for Side Effects of CAR T Therapy in Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

(Sept. 17, 2019) “Our findings suggest that not only does radiation not interfere with the efficacy of CAR T, it may even carry a benefit for NHL patients,” said the study’s senior author John Plastaras, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology at Penn.

Two Studies Show Promise, Safety of Proton Therapy in the Brain in Children with Cancer

(Sept. 16, 2019)  From improving outcomes in children with brain cancer to lowering the risk of damage to the brainstem in children with central nervous system tumors, a pair of new studies published today add to the growing body of research showing the potential benefits of proton therapy. Both studies were led by Christine Hill-Kayser, MD, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, a member of Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, and a pediatric oncologist in the Cancer Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Read the papers here: Pediatric Blood & CancerActa Oncologica

Hypofractionated Proton Therapy Safe, Effective Among Men with Prostate Cancer

(July 10, 2019) Treating prostate cancer with higher doses of proton therapy over a shorter amount of time leads to similar outcomes when compared to standard dose levels and treatments and is safe for patients, according to new research led by Neha Vapiwala, MD, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology, and Amardeep Grewal, MD, assistant chief resident in Radiation Oncology.

Penn team finds new path to tumor death in mouse models of lymphoma and colon cancer

(July 7, 2019) Research led by Constantinos Koumenis, PhD, vice chair and research division director of Radiation Oncology, shows blocking activation of ATF4 can cause cancer cells to grow too quickly and die from the resulting stress in mouse models. Read the article in Nature Cell Biology.

One Simple Change Cut Unnecessary Imaging for Cancer Patients in Half

(June 27, 2019) Simply introducing a default physician order — a “nudge” — into electronic health records (EHRs) cut the use of unnecessary daily imaging in half during palliative radiation therapy sessions for patients with advanced cancer, according to a Penn Medicine study published in JAMA Oncology. 

Penn Receives $12 Million Grant to Study Connection Between Radiation and Immunotherapies

(June 3, 2019) A $12 million grant will help researchers at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania pursue the next generation of cancer treatments. Five specific projects will bring together multidisciplinary teams of basic science and clinical researchers to answer key questions. “These projects have the chance to change the paradigm when it comes to cancer treatment,” said the center’s director Andy J. Minn, MD, PhD.

Proton Therapy Lowers Risk of Side-Effects Compared to Conventional Radiation

(May 22, 2019) Cancer patients getting proton therapy instead of traditional photon radiation are at a significantly lower risk of experiencing side-effects from their radiation therapy, while cure rates are almost identical between the two groups. Findings will be presented at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago (Abstract #6521)

Cancer Patients Can Now Use Skin Creams During Radiation Therapy

(October 18, 2018) Contrary to the advice most cancer patients receive when they go through radiation treatment, topical skin treatments, unless applied very heavily, do not increase the radiation dose to the skin and can be used in moderation before daily radiation treatments. A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that while 91 percent of clinicians surveyed said they advised patients to avoid these skin treatments and 83 percent of patients surveyed said they’d received this guidance from their doctors, testing showed there was no difference in the radiation skin dose with or without these creams. Read their findings in JAMA Oncology

Additional Inhibitor Can Help Anti-VEGF Therapy Overcome Resistance in Deadly Brain Cancer

(August 27, 2018) A team led by senior author Yi Fan, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at Penn, analyzed human glioblastoma specimens and found VEGF receptor expression was reduced in tumor-associated endothelial cells – the cells that line the interior surface of the blood vessels. “This could be the key to solving the biggest problem in the field of anti-vascular cancer therapies,” Fan said. “Tumors are highly resistant to anti-VEGF therapies alone, but our study shows the flaw is in the current treatment, not the concept itself.” Click here to read more.

Justin Bekelman Wins 2018 American Cancer Society Cancer Control Award

(August, 2018) Penn Medicine Oncologist, LDI Senior Fellow and Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology Justin Bekelman has been named winner of the 2018 Cancer Control Award from the Philadelphia Market of the American Cancer Society (ACS).



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