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Radiation Oncology

Quality, Performance, and Innovation in Cancer Care

Welcome to the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Our mission is to provide the highest quality care to patients with all types of cancers and certain benign tumors. The department aims to achieve excellence in professionalism and performance of our services. We seek to create a climate that fosters innovation and allows patients access to the newest cutting edge treatments.

The Department of Radiation Oncology is integrated within the award-winning, nationally celebrated University of Colorado Hospital, within the larger University of Colorado Health system. The University of Colorado Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

 – Brian D. Kavanagh, MD, MPH, FASTRO​, Professor and Chair ​​​​​


In The News...

1/26/18 - Thomas awarded American Cancer Society Grant
Dr David Thomas, a member of the Medical Physics faculty, has been awarded an American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant.  The project titled “High Resolution X-Ray Induced Acoustic Computed Tomography for In-Vivo Dosimetry and Imaging Applications” is focused on developing a novel imaging system, which will provide real-time in-vivo 3D radiation dose measurements in the body.  “Radiation dosimetry (measuring the delivered radiation dose distribution) is a crucial part of improving the quality of radiation therapy in order to ensure that the correct dose is accurately delivered” says Dr. Thomas. “We hope to develop a system capable of measuring radiation dose in real time, based on the ‘photoacoustic effect’. I’m excited to apply this innovative technology to radiation therapy.

12/19/17 - Robin & Rusthoven report remarkable radiosurgery results
Drs. Tyler Robin, PGY-4 resident in radiation oncology, and Chad Rusthoven, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology, have published a paper in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology demonstrating excellent survivorship in patients with four or more brain metastases from EGFR-mutated and ALK-rearranged lung cancer treated with radiosurgery alone. A median survival of 3.0 years (4.2 for ALK, 2.4 for EGFR) from the diagnosis of brain metastases was achieved, and survival was equivalent regardless of number of radiosurgery courses, number of tumors treated in total, or number of tumors treated in a single radiosurgery session. 


“It used to be that once lung cancer metastasized to the brain, the prognosis was
poor. Whole brain radiation therapy decreases the risk of death from neurologic causes, but at a steep cost. This study suggests that for lung cancer patients on targeted therapies whose cancer has spread to the brain, the use of radiosurgery makes it rare to die of causes related to brain metastases,” says Tyler Robin, MD, PhD, the paper’s first author. Robin also measured dose to non-target structures such as the hippocampus and demonstrated that radiosurgery yielded substantially lower dose to this and other parts of normal brain than even the most sophisticated techniques of whole brain radiotherapy.  Adds senior author Dr. Rusthoven, “The very low dose of radiation to the normal brain observed with radiosurgery compared to whole-brain radiation has the potential to dramatically lower the risk of cognitive side effects.”

10/5/17 - Dr. Kavanagh delivers Presidental Address at ASTRO 2017 

The ASTRO Annual Meeting is the world's most important meeting for the radiation oncology community, with more than 11,000 people attending each year. This comprehensive meeting covers all the latest developments in radiation oncology, with a full program of scientific and educational sessions that highlight the latest technological advances, while emphasizing the importance of clinical care. The theme for the 59th Annual Meeting was “The Healing Art and Science of Radiation Oncology”. Dr. Brian Kavanagh​ gave the Presidential Address at the Annual ASTRO meeting in San Diego, CA in late September and delivered a bit of poetry, a bit of science, and even a couple of magic tricks framed by an individual patient’s story that set up a discussion of larger narratives that have characterized the field of radiation oncology in recent years. The entire presidential address can be seen at this link.

9/26/17 - CU Team Participates in ASTRO 5K
A team of past and present Physicians, Residents, Therapists, Dosimetrists, and Administrative Staff participated in the ASTRO ROI 5K Run For the Future. Pictured below are all the participants from the race in San Diego on Monday September 25th. Special congratulations to our Physicist Jenia Vinogradskiy for finishing in 3rd place overall as well as organizing the CU team!

9/1/17 - Ridings named "Top Doc" once again

JaneRidings.jpgDr. Jane Ridings has once again been named a “top doc” by Colorado Springs Style magazine. Dr. Ridings is the Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Memorial Hospital in the University of Colorado Health System. She has earned this distinction for several years in a row as a result of her outstanding service in cancer care to the Colorado Springs Community. She has led numerous innovative clinical initiatives at Memorial, including an intra-operative radiation therapy (IORT) program for early stage breast cancer. The 2017 list can be seen here​.

JDiamond.JPGJennifer Diamond, MD, and Christine Fisher, MD​, co-director of the Women’s Cancer Developmental Therapeutics Program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, help to increase access to clinical trials and promising treatments for women with breast cancer and gynecological cancers.​ Click here to read the full story.

8/14/17 - Rabinovitch and Liu recognized as Top Doctors again!
RR2016Web.jpgDrs. Rachel Rabinovitch and Arthur Liu
were once again recognized by 5280 magazine in the annual list of were once again recognized by 5280 magazine in the annual list of Top Doctors in Denver. Each has received this distinction multiple times previously in view of their commitment to excellence in patient care and outstanding clinical skills. Dr. Rabinovitch is nationally and internationally known for her work in the treatment of breast cancer, serving at the lead investigator on numerous important clinical trials initiated locally and nationally through National Cancer Institute-sponsored NRG Oncology Group. She also maintains a long-standing collaboration with colleagues at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, the leading center for the study of women with the BRCA gene mutation. Dr. Liu specializes in the treatment of pediatric cancers. Among his many responsibilities is service on the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Institutional Performance Monitoring Committee as well as the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Practice Accreditation Committee. He also serves as the Chief Medical Advisor to the Morgan Adams Foundation, which funds pediatric cancer research aimed at improving survival rates and reduce the side-effects cancer treatment.
8/10/17 - Radiation Oncology Department Welcomes Dr. Sameer Nath
Dr. Sameer (Sam) Nath has recently joined the faculty of the Department of Radiation Oncology. Dr. Nath received his MD and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Research at the University of California San Diego in 2010.  He continued his training in Radiation Oncology at Yale University School of Medicine, where he served as chief resident prior to joining the faculty in 2015.  At Yale, Dr. Nath specialized in malignancies of the thorax, genitourinary tract, head and neck, and also developed expertise in radiosurgery. Dr. Nath is a dedicated clinical researcher and has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles and textbook chapters. His research interests include identifying novel biomarkers, exploring health outcomes data, and developing advanced imaging and treatment techniques for radiotherapy patients. He also served as Associate Program Director of the Radiation Oncology residency and Faculty Advisor of the medical student interest group. Outside of work, Dr. Nath enjoys playing soccer and spending time with his two young boys, Jack and Max, and his wife, Dr. Alison Sheridan, who is a radiologist also joining the faculty at the University of Colorado in the Body Radiology section.

4/24/17 - Karam awarded RSNA grant​​
Dr. Sana Karam​ and her lab team have been awarded a grant from the Board of Trustees of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). The project that will be supported, entitled “Combined Inhibition of EphB4 and EGFR Signaling Enhances Radiosensitization in Head and Neck Cancers”, will focus on novel mechanisms of interaction between radiation and the Eph family of ligands and receptors, an area in which Dr. Karam has become a leading expert. “I am excited that we will have an opportunity to fill in a few important gaps in our understanding of the best way to combine radiation and certain new agents in head and neck cancer,” says Dr. Karam. “We are moving very close to a point where we will be able to offer this type of combination to patients in clinical trials, and I think there is reason to expect we can improve tumor cure rates for certain groups of patients."


4/21/17 - Alexeev wins AAPM Junior Investigator Competition
Dr. Timur Alexeev, a post-doctoral fellow of the Medical Physics section, has been selected as the winner of the Junior Investigator Competition of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Annual Meeting for his abstract, “Development and Evaluation of a Two Dimensional Antiscatter Grid for CBCT”. The work was accomplished under the supervision of Dr. Cem Altunbas, who is principal investigator of an NIH R21-funded project addressing the challenges of how to improve cone-beam CT scanning (CBCT), an imaging technique relied upon heavily for high precision image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT).  “Dr. Alexeev’s work has demonstrated important fundamental principles in this study and established that our grid technique improves image quality,” notes Dr. Altunbas, who adds, “and this work lays a foundation for implementing the new techniques in the clinic in the near future."

2/15/17 - Robin’s Research Cited in New York Times Article on Disparities

A recent publication authored by Dr. Tyler Robin, PGY-3, Department of Radiation Oncology, has received national attention. The article, “Disparities in standard of care treatment and associated survival decrement in patients with locally advanced cervical cancer”, was cited in a New York Times article addressing disparities in cervical cancer treatment. 

Senior author Dr. Christine Fisher commented, “Dr. Robin's study revealed a very important and concerning point. Fewer than half of patients with locally advanced cervix cancer receive appropriate standard therapy for their cancer, which should include both external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy. Patients were more likely to receive substandard therapy if they had lower incomes, only Medicaid insurance, or treatment outside of a comprehensive cancer center. We hope that by illuminating the problem we can educate patients and providers outside of major centers that referral to a comprehensive cancer center like ours is important if the appropriate expertise and technology for proper treatment is unavailable locally. Cervix cancer can be challenging to treat but is potentially curable, and it is important that the oncology community rallies to the support of the vulnerable populations of patients who need access to standard care.  Our ultimate hope is for elimination of cervical cancer through vaccination and screening, but, until then, access to best care is critically important for cervix cancer patients. 

Co-authors of the study included Dr. Arya Amini, PGY-5, Department of Radiation Oncology; Dr. Tracey Schefter, Department of Radiation Oncology; and Dr. Kian Behbahkt, Director of Gynecologic Oncology.