Newswise — Researchers from The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) are in Chicago this week for the 51st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) to present their findings on the latest advances in the field. With more than 10,000 members worldwide, ASTRO is considered the world’s largest radiation oncology organization. CINJ is a Center of Excellence of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Among the abstracts accepted for this year’s conference, more than a dozen contributions are from the radiation oncology team at CINJ. Bruce G. Haffty, MD, chair of radiation oncology at CINJ and professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is the lead investigator on an oral abstract focusing on Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) and the p53 binding protein gene in breast cancer patients.

SNP’s represent common genetic changes in all cells and the p53 binding protein is known to be involved in repairing DNA damaged through radiation. In the study, investigators evaluated 176 pre-menopausal women who had breast conserving surgery and whole breast irradiation. DNA samples were processed and results showed that there could be a correlation to tumor recurrence in the breast in patients with a specific pattern of DNA changes. This novel area of investigation suggests that genetic patterns may influence outcomes in patients undergoing radiation treatment. The team notes that additional basic science evaluation is needed, as well as larger validation studies to assess clinical implications of these findings.

Dr. Haffty, who also is the chair of radiation oncology at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, is an ASTRO Fellow, having been selected for this distinguished honor due to his significant contributions to the field.

Sharad Goyal, MD, instructor of radiation oncology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is the lead investigator on a poster focusing on the benefit of implanted gold markers in the breast cavity following a lumpectomy. These gold markers help to deliver what is known as Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI) -- a radiation procedure delivered to only a portion of the breast, over a three-week period versus the traditional six or seven.

CINJ researchers found that by placing four to six gold markers in the breast cavity, clinicians were able to better determine when to start APBI following the reduction of surgical swelling. The data compiled thus far indicates that starting APBI between 36 and 48 days following surgery would be sufficient in order to allow between 88 and 94 percent of the swelling to resolve. Dr. Goyal indicates these findings will help improve the accuracy of radiation treatments.

As the study continues, the team will further explore changes in the lumpectomy cavity following surgery, as such changes have vital implications for the amount of radiation able to be delivered safely, the amount of normal breast tissue that is treated, and the timing of chemotherapy with respect to radiation.

A poster outlining a prototype for a web-based, radiation oncology practice quality improvement tool also will be featured. The system measures data collected from both patient-specific and department-process specific metrics in an effort to provide clinicians with “real time” updates on the quality of care they offer their patients.

Molly Gabel, MD, deputy director of extramural affairs at CINJ and associate professor of radiation oncology at UMNDJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is the lead investigator. She says the system tested by her team promotes efficient and accurate data collection. “By entering certain variables, the system can provide continual feedback to the entire healthcare team, of particular importance if the 100-percent concordance goal is not met,” she said. Dr. Gabel noted that it only takes an average of three minutes to enter each patient’s data into the system, which can be accessed and utilized by other healthcare facilities. The system will serve as the pilot for a nationwide performance assessment tool.

The work represented by CINJ members is among more than 1,000 abstracts being presented at the gathering. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, ASTRO’s mission is to advance the practice of radiation oncology by promoting excellence in patient care, providing opportunities for educational and professional development, promoting research and disseminating research results, and representing radiation oncology in a rapidly evolving socioeconomic healthcare environment.

About The Cancer Institute of New JerseyThe Cancer Institute of New Jersey ( is the state’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, and is dedicated to improving the prevention, detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer. CINJ’s physician-scientists engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, quite literally bringing research to life. The Cancer Institute of New Jersey is a center of excellence of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. To support CINJ, please call the Cancer Institute of New Jersey Foundation at 1-888-333-CINJ.

The Cancer Institute of New Jersey Network is comprised of hospitals throughout the state and provides a mechanism to rapidly disseminate important discoveries into the community. Flagship Hospital: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Major Clinical Research Affiliate Hospitals: Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Memorial Hospital, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Hospital, and Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Affiliate Hospitals: Bayshore Community Hospital, CentraState Healthcare System, Cooper University Hospital*, JFK Medical Center, Mountainside Hospital, Raritan Bay Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton (CINJ at Hamilton), Saint Peter’s University Hospital, Somerset Medical Center, Southern Ocean County Hospital, The University Hospital/UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School*, and University Medical Center at Princeton. *Academic Affiliate

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