Cancer Therapy & Research Center studies to be presented at American Society for Radiation Oncology Oct. 18-21

SAN ANTONIO (Oct. 16, 2015) — During the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 57th Annual Meeting Oct. 18-21 in San Antonio, researchers from the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will present four research studies that resulted from collaboration between CTRC radiation oncology physicists and physicians. These studies examine technical improvements to optimize radiation therapy for advanced prostate cancer, liver cancer and metastatic brain cancer.

In the first study, researchers compared the delivery of two photon beam therapy energies to treat patients with advanced prostate cancer who are obese. The CTRC scientists found that, for a specific type of radiation delivery technique, higher-energy radiation beams showed improved sparing of healthy tissues in the pelvis.

The second CTRC presentation at ASTRO is a study establishing a three-dimensional model of how the liver responds to radiation biologically. This theoretical modeling could potentially optimize the radiation delivery technique to treat liver cancer while minimizing injury or damage to surrounding tissues.

In the third study, CTRC researchers evaluated a novel radiation delivery technique for treating patients with multiple brain metastases. The investigation found that the new technique was capable of delivering high-quality treatments with improved efficiency.

The fourth study set up theoretical calculations of the maximum dose of radiation that can be delivered when treating aggressive prostate cancer. In those cancers, a larger body area needs to be treated, including the pelvic lymph nodes and the prostate. The small bowel is also in the pelvic region and adjacent to the lymph nodes. This study models how to raise the radiation dose to the lymph nodes without injuring the small bowel.

“In each study, we are trying to optimize the treatment benefit provided by radiation therapy to our patients,” said Chul Soo Ha, M.D., Fellow of ASTRO, who holds the CTRC Foundation Distinguished Chair in Radiation Oncology and is professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology in the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center.

Also at the ASTRO meeting, San Antonio resident and cancer survivor Vicki Shapiro will receive the 2015 Survivor Circle Award. Shapiro will be presented with the award, including $1,000, at the awards ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the Henry B. González Convention Center.

The Survivor Circle Award recognizes a cancer survivor who lives in the ASTRO Annual Meeting host city and who has dedicated his or her time and energy in service and support of their local community. Shapiro is the volunteer coordinator for the Sarcoma Support Group at the CTRC.

“Ms. Shapiro’s work in helping other cancer patients is inspirational. She is a vital support to patients through the difficult-to-navigate terrain of diagnosis to survivorship with the Sarcoma Support Group,” said ASTRO President Bruce D. Minsky, MD, FASTRO. “ASTRO is honored to present Ms. Shapiro with the 2015 Survivor Circle Award.”

Shapiro was diagnosed with high-grade pleomorphic myxofibrosarcoma in April 2010 and was given a 40 percent chance of being cancer-free at five years. She was treated by an integrated medical team at CTRC in the Sarcoma Center, receiving 25 treatments of radiation over five weeks, and undergoing surgery in July 2010 to remove an aggressive tumor from her left leg. Following surgery, she underwent six cycles of adjuvant chemotherapy.

In July 2015, she celebrated five years cancer-free. She is now in complete remission.

Shapiro said she became involved with volunteering because she did not know a cancer-free sarcoma survivor during her treatment, and felt that knowing someone who was in remission might have helped her through the experience.

ASTRO meeting attendees will also have the chance to hear presentations by:

• Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., professor of pediatric and transplantation surgery with the University Transplant Center, a partnership of the UT Health Science Center and the University Health System. Dr. Cigarroa will discuss his journey to becoming a transplant surgeon and chancellor of The University of Texas System.
• Ian M. Thompson Jr., M.D., professor of urology and CTRC director.
• Dr. Ha, who will welcome attendees and speak at an educational session, “Challenging Cases of Hodgkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma,” at 1:15 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18.


The Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the elite academic cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center, and is one of only four in Texas. A leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, the CTRC Institute for Drug Development (IDD) conducts one of the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug programs in the world, and participates in development of cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit

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