Moffitt Cancer Center and Total Cancer Care® Personalize Radiation Treatment

September 15, 2014

TAMPA, Fla.– Fifty percent of all cancer patients undergo radiation therapy as part of their treatment. Moffitt Cancer Center is studying ways to use genomic technologies more effectively to prescribe radiation treatment. Javier Torres-Roca, M.D., associate member of the Radiation Oncology Department and his collaborator, Steven Eschrich, Ph.D., associate member of the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Department, have developed a patented test called the radiation sensitivity index which can predict whether an individual tumor will respond to radiation treatment.

Recently, Torres-Roca led a team of Moffitt investigators to evaluate the individual radiosensitivity score for multiple tumor types and correlate those scores with clinical outcomes.  He will discuss these findings in nine individual presentations at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology (ASTRO) Annual Meeting Sept 14-17 in San Francisco.

Through a partnership with Moffitt’s Total Cancer Care® program, Torres-Roca has evaluated tissue data from more than 13,000 tumor samples. Having a better understanding of radiosensitivity can enable physicians to personalize radiation therapy delivery with the aim of improving patient outcomes.

“The radiosensitivity will reduce unnecessary radiation treatment, as well as fine tune more effective treatment for those cancer patients who stand to benefit,” said Torres-Roca. “By taking a more tailored approach to radiation therapy, we will be able to improve patient care and reduce health care costs.”

Torres-Roca’s research found there was a significant variability in individual tumor radiosensitivity within and across cancer types. There was a 20-fold difference between the most treatment-sensitive tumor and the most resistant. This information can be integrated into clinical care and reduce radiation treatment for patients who will not benefit. In addition, it could potentially be used to optimize radiation therapy dosing parameters. Moffitt is already putting these findings into practice through a partnership with the National Cancer Institute and the Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea to use radiosensitivity as a molecular diagnostic to identify patients unlikely to respond to pre-operative radiochemotherapy in rectal cancer.

“Our clinical studies have shown that there is wide variability in tumor radiosensitivity,” explained Torres-Roca.  “Radiation therapy benefit is thus not uniform. Integrating a genomic measure of tumor radiosensitivity provides the opportunity to optimize radiotherapy doses biologically and thus maximize benefit to patients.  Identification of resistant tumors at initial diagnosis will also provide early data to clinicians, so that choices for treatment can be reprioritized immediately.  The radiosensitivity analysis will help ensure the right radiation treatment is delivered to the patient at the right time and at the right dose.”

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Located in Tampa, Moffitt is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the No. 1 cancer hospital in the Southeast and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer since 1999. With more than 4,500 employees, Moffitt has an economic impact on Florida of nearly $1.6 billion. For more information, visit, and follow the Moffitt momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.