ST. CROIXThe discovery that radioprotectants can be used in some
settings to protect normal tissues from radiation damage promises to greatly
extend the usefulness of regimens that combine systemic chemotherapy and
radiation therapy. The First Investigators’ Congress on Radioprotection,
held June 7 to 10, 2001 served as a forum to review current progress and
discuss new developments in strategies for radioprotection.
Substantive sessions focused on head and neck cancer, thoracic cancer,
and genitourinary and gastrointestinal cancers.
"The combined effects of systemic therapy and radiotherapy on normal
tissue often are the therapy-limiting toxicities. What we learn about
radioprotection also applies to protection of normal tissues from
combined-modality therapy," program chairman Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD,
"What might become the standard of care over the next few years
might be quite different from what it was when these issues of normal tissue
protection were first brought up. The therapies for these diseases will be
different, and the paradigms of normal tissue protection will be different
as well." Dr. Curran is professor and chairman, Department of Radiation
Oncology, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and clinical director of the
Kimmel Cancer Center of Jefferson Medical Center, Philadelphia.
A major concern raised at the meeting was the need for standardized and
validated toxicity criteria. "Some of the normal tissue toxicity
criteria that are being widely applied have not given adequate attention to
toxicities associated with local-regional toxicities," Dr. Curran said.