10 Roswell Park Teams Presenting Research at Annual Surgical Oncology Meeting

BUFFALO, NY — Ten teams from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (Roswell Park) led research projects that will be presented at the Society of Surgical Oncology’s 66th annual Cancer Symposium this week in National Harbor, MD. In all, 28 Roswell Park faculty and staff members contributed toward 12 different oral and poster presentations that were included in the program at this year’s meeting.

Among the Roswell Park physicians who will present at this year’s symposium are Jessica Young, MD, an attending physician in Roswell Park’s Department of Surgical Oncology, Breast Surgery Division, who is first author on the poster presentation “Treatment of the Metachronous Contralateral Breast Cancer: SEER Study of Factors Affecting Surgical Choice” (abstract P61; section: Breast Cancer).

While roughly 10% of women with breast cancer will develop a contralateral breast cancer — a cancer on the opposite breast — after an initial occurrence of breast cancer, little data exists about the factors that affect choice of surgical therapy for the second cancer. Using data available through the national Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry, Dr. Young and colleagues found a strong association between the type of surgical therapy used to treat the first cancer and surgery type for the second cancer. They also found that factors increasing the likelihood of mastectomy for the opposite-breast cancer were tumor size, tumor stage, younger age at diagnosis and the race of the patient. Dr. Young’s co-authors are Nancy Watroba, MPA, Adrienne Groman, MS, Shicha Kumar, MD, and Stephen Edge, MD, of Roswell Park.

Three clinical fellows from Roswell Park’s Department of Surgical Oncology are first authors on posters to be presented at this year’s Symposium:

Julie Alosi, MD, is first author on “Planned Esophagectomy After Neoadjuvant Treatment versus Salvage/Delayed Esophagectomy” (abstract P218; section: Other [Urology/Head and Neck/Thoracic]). The standard therapy for most esophageal cancers is trimodal therapy for esophageal cancer — a planned sequence of esophagectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. But some patients are not deemed to be good candidates for surgery, and others may experience delays between the components of their treatment as a result of adverse side effects. In this study, the researchers compared outcomes for patients receiving trimodal therapy with those who either experienced treatment delays or had “salvage” surgery to treat persistent or recurrent disease. They found that outcomes between these groups were similar, suggesting that salvage esophagectomy may be a good option for patients who are not initially good candidates for surgery. The study also provides evidence that it is safe to delay esophagectomy for patients who require additional time to recover from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Co-authors are Sai Yendamuri, MD, and Elizabeth Dexter, MD, of Roswell Park and Jason Wilson, MD, of Sentara Surgery Specialists, Newport News, VA. 

Iyare Esemuede, MD, is first author on “Risk Factors for Positive Radial Margins in North American Rectal Cancer Patients” (abstract P138; section: Colorectal Cancer). Dr. Esemuede and his colleagues examined data on Roswell Park patients who received surgery to treat rectal cancer between 2005 and 2011. They found that two factors were linked to the tendency toward positive radial margins, which typically must be addressed through additional surgery: depth of tumor invasion and perineural invasion, or cancers that had spread to surrounding nerve tissue. They also saw that overall survival appeared to be poorer for rectal cancer patients who were found to have positive margins, but note that further study is needed to confirm these findings.

Sartaj Sanghera, MD, is first author on two poster presentations. The first is “Superficial Soft Tissue Sarcomas: Homogenous Good Outcome in a Heterogeneous Group of Tumors” (abstract P278, section: Sarcoma). In this study, the team tested their hypothesis that superficial soft-tissue sarcomas, those that occur fairly close to the surface of the skin, may be treated effectively with surgery alone, without the need for radiation therapy. Looking at 103 patients treated at Roswell Park over a 10-year period, they found that patients with these tumors generally experienced good outcomes following surgery, regardless of factors such as tumor size, tumor grade or the use of radiotherapy. They concluded that a large majority of superficial sarcomas can be effectively treated with local excision alone. Co-authors are Valerie Francescutti, MD, Austin Miller, PhD, Joseph Skitzki, MD, and John Kane, MD, of Roswell Park and Rachel Burke, MD, of the Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, VA.

Dr. Sanghera is also first author on “FAK-VEGFR3 Signaling is a Promising Target for the Development of Novel Therapeutics in Gastric Cancer” (abstract P294; section: Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer). Gastric or stomach cancer usually presents at an advanced stage, with limited therapeutic options that have modest efficacy. Studies on tumor specimens have shown that gastric tumor cells over-express the FAK (focal kinase inhibitor) protein. In pre-clinical studies, Dr. Sanghera and colleagues tested the effectiveness of C4, a novel compound, in controlling tumors through inhibition of FAK. They found that the drug “directly and significantly” decreased the viability of gastric cancer cells, suggesting that inhibition of the FAK-VEGFR-3 pathway may prove to be a new and effective approach for the treatment of stomach cancer. Co-authors are Elena Kurenova, PhD, Jianqun Liao, Timothy Platz, MD, and William Cance, MD, all of Roswell Park.

Additionally, Roswell Park physicians will also share research findings in five oral presentations at the meeting, and Steven Hochwald, MD, will give the presentation “Establishing a Program in Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy” on March 8 during a Meet the Professor breakfast.

“We’re particularly proud of the ingenuity and team science that went into the research we’re presenting this year,” said William Cance, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief and Chair of the Department of Surgical Oncology at Roswell Park. “My colleagues’ research covers a wide variety of cancer types, and the approaches we’ve been exploring range from biomarker research to detailed outcomes analysis — all of it looking to answer important questions that will, no doubt, help to improve care for cancer patients everywhere.”


The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Roswell Park, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit Roswell Park’s website at https://www.roswellpark.org/, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email AskRoswell@Roswellpark.org.

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