World Experts in Specialized Radiation Therapy to Gather at URMC

Scientists Share Results of Expanding New Technology to Treat Cancers June 13-14

June 11, 2008

Cancer survivor Jarod Finlay will share his experiences as the first patient to undergo an investigational procedure – stereotactic body radiation therapy – during a conference of world experts on the procedure this Friday and Saturday at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Finlay, who had metastatic tumors in his lungs, received the groundbreaking therapy more than seven years ago when his doctors treated his lung tumors using technology originally designed to destroy brain tumors. This technique and scientists’ research to support its expanded use will be discussed by more than 100 experts attending the Scientific Conference on Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy. Finlay will deliver the opening address by describing his care and perspective.

He was 25 when doctors discovered that his previously treated head and neck cancer had spread to his lungs. Traditional radiation therapy is an effective treatment for many tumors, but the side effects include scarring around the tumor and the destruction of healthy tissue along with the cancer cells. In addition, sometimes very small tumors are impossible to reach using conventional technology.

Doctors at the Rochester’s James P. Wilmot Cancer Center treated his five lung tumors with shaped-beam stereotactic body radiation therapy in 2000. The Wilmot team had previously used the Novalis technology, which delivers high-dose radiation with pinpoint precision, to treat brain tumors.

Paul Okunieff, M.D., a radiation therapy expert, was confident the technology could be expanded to treat other delicate organs – such as the liver and lungs – that other doctors were reluctant to expose to therapeutic radiation. His initiative has led to a much-needed treatment option for more than 600 patients at the Wilmot Cancer Center who have been treated to date when no other treatments were available.

“This technology has achieved outstanding therapeutic benefits for many patients who didn’t have many treatment options in the past,” said Okunieff, chair of Radiation Oncology at the Wilmot Cancer Center. “We’re anxious to connect with our colleagues from around the world who are at the forefront of treatments for tomorrow. We want to work together to ensure this technology is effective and available to all patients.”

Wilmot radiation oncologists and scientists have seen significant success with the technique in clinical studies over the past seven years. Several studies have demonstrated control rates of nearly 90 percent when treating tumors in the liver and lungs – the growth of 9 out of 10 cancerous tumors is halted by the technology. Scientists have also developed a variety of models for treating soft-tissue tumors, such as in the liver, lungs lymph nodes, adrenal glands, and prostate, using this technology.

In addition to doctors and scientists from the Medical Center and Wilmot Cancer Center, other speakers at the conference include experts from Duke, Stanford, Harvard and Michigan universities, Germany, Toronto and the National Cancer Institute.
Paul Okunieff, M.D., shows Jarod Finlay the plan to deliver stereotactic body radiation therapy to his lungs when he was treated in 2000.

For Media Inquiries:
Leslie White
(585) 273-1119
Email Leslie White