The project will focus on refining treatment methods for locally advanced pancreatic cancer, a deadly malignancy that presents many challenges for oncologists. These tumors can act very aggressively and grow to invade surrounding normal structures in the abdomen, often to a point beyond the possibility of surgical resection. In such cases it is necessary to use as high of a dose of radiation as possible in an effort to stop debilitating local progression of the disease.
The researchers point out that it can be difficult to escalate the radiation dose because the pancreas undergoes large and inconsistent respiratory-induced motion during treatment. Accounting for this motion and ensuring coverage of the tumor necessitates the treatment of a large volume that includes substantial amounts of nearby normal tissues such as the intestines and stomach, which could lead to side effects and greatly limit the capacity to be maximally aggressive.
In this project the goal will be to use “respiratory-gated” Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) with implanted fiducial markers, meaning that treatment will be rhythmically linked to the breathing cycle to synchronize treatment in a manner that allows the radiation dose to be deposited more selectively in the tumor instead of the normal tissues.
Jones also was recently awarded a K12 grant from the University of Colorado Cancer Center to support his early career development as a clinical-translational scientist.