American Society For Radiation Oncology: 2013 Annual Meeting Highlights


The Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) was held in Atlanta on September 22-25, 2013. This meeting is the largest assembly of radiation oncology physicians and researchers in the world. Focused ultrasound has a growing and important role in clinical research in radiation oncology, and highlights included:

1. J. E. Meyer from the Fox Chase Cancer Center presented their work on the pain palliation of bone metastases using focused ultrasound. Their retrospective analysis showed breast cancer metastases as having the best response rate (87%), which may impact future patient selection and treatment decisions.

2. A. Holtzman from the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute described proton therapy as salvage treatment for local relapse of prostate cancer after cryosurgery or focused ultrasound. Proton therapy is effective but conventional radiotherapy or follow-up focused ultrasound may be equally effective.

3. J. Tang from Albert Einstein College of Medicine presented data on using low intensity focused ultrasound to discover its biological effects on cancer. The study showed that the focused ultrasound induced acute cellular stress, showing its possible use to control cancer cell growth.

4. J. S. Yu and others at the Cleveland Clinic are studying the use of focused ultrasound—induced hyperthermia to modulate the DNA control of glioblastoma initiating cells (brain cancer cells) and alter their growth. Their studies suggest that thermoradiation therapy could be combined with chemotherapy to improve treatment effects.

5. R. Sarabia-Estrada and researchers at Johns Hopkins University are using nanoparticle thermal therapy to treat symptomatic spinal metastases. They hypothesize that localized heating with focused ultrasound will generate therapeutic temperatures in tumors, spare neural function, protect the spinal cord, limit neurologic dysfunction, and minimize systemic exposure of chemotherapy agents without their accumulation in the lymphoreticular system.

The Foundation thanks Stanley Benedict, PhD, of the University of California—Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center for writing the meeting summary from which this story was based. To learn more about the meeting and other publications by ASTRO please visit