Clinical Research >

Cancer Research Program

By Thyra Endicott, M.D., RTOG Principal Investigator

The Vasek Polak Research Program at Torrance Memorial Medical Center provides access to national clinical trials for our cancer patients. We are affiliated with the Clinical Trials Support Unit and the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Torrance Memorial patients have enrolled in a number of these trials, and we are expanding our connection with the NCI on a monthly basis. This is an exciting opportunity for our patients and for our cancer program -- very few community hospitals have the resources to support these efforts, but through Vasek Polak's support, our patients can participate in trials that can establish new standards for the cure of cancer.

Many women screened by mammography at Torrance Memorial are discovered to have an early form of breast cancer known as ductal carcinoma in-situ (DCIS). This is usually treated by removal of the affected tissue, followed by 5 to 6 weeks of breast radiation therapy. However, national experts believe that a favorable group of DCIS patients may be treated without radiation and still have excellent long-term control. As an affiliate member of the national Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), the Program is enrolling patients to a randomized clinical study of this important question. Another trial is designed for women with early invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer. It will compare a new technique of partial breast radiation to the established therapy, radiation to the whole breast.

Prostate cancer, with an incidence similar to breast cancer, has not received equivalent research focus until recently. The Department of Radiation Oncology at Torrance Memorial, in coordination with the Urology staff, have utilized sophisticated computer-driven techniques to treat prostate cancer, but there are many important clinical questions still to be addressed. The RTOG has been in the forefront of prostate cancer research. It has completed several prostate trials that are changing the clinical management of this disease, and we are participating in several of RTOG's currently accruing prostate trials. These trials can answer important questions for prostate cancer patients -- how long a man might need to be on hormone therapy, what radiation dose gives the best chance of cure with the lowest risk of side effects, whether some men with more aggressive cancer may benefit from chemotherapy.

We also have trials open looking at new antibody therapy active against cancers of the head and neck, and against lung cancer, and a new chemotherapy regimen for anal cancer. Over the coming years, we expect to be able to support a broad spectrum of important national cancer trials.

The Research Program will assist the medical staff in entering appropriate patients into these studies. Dr. Thyra Endicott is the principal investigator for RTOG studies. Dr. Thomas Simko and Dr. Daniel Hovenstine are co-investigators with her in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Torrance Memorial. We have also seen enthusiastic support from medical oncologists in the Torrance community, with many also functioning as co-investigators.

Details of these protocols are summarized below. If you have particular questions or need further information, please call the program at (310) 784-4863. All studies must pass stringent requirements for patient safety by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Torrance Memorial before implementation, and all studies have been reviewed and approved by the National Cancer Institute.

Protocol List

Client Client No. Title Principal Investigator -
VP03-01 American College of Radiology RTOG-9804 Phase III Trial of Observation +/- Tamoxifen vs. RT +/- Tamoxifen for Good Risk Duct Carcinoma in-Situ (DCIS) of the Female Breast Thyra Endicott, MD breast cancer
VP03-02 American College of Radiology RTOG P-9902 A Phase III Protocol of Androgen Suppression (AS) and Radiation Therapy (RT) vs AS and RT Followed by Chemotherapy with Paclitaxel, Estramustine, and Etoposide (TEE) for Localized, High-Risk, Prostate Cancer Thyra Endicott, MD prostate cancer
VP03-03 American College of Radiology RTOG P-9910 A Phase III Trial to Evaluate the Duration of Neoadjuvant Total Androgen Suppression (TAS) and Radiation Therapy (RT) in Intermediate-Risk Prostate Cancer Thyra Endicott, MD prostate cancer
VP03-04 American College of Radiology RTOG P-0011 Phase III Randomized Study of Adjuvant Therapy for High Risk pT2-3N0 Prostate Cancer Thyra Endicott, MD prostate cancer
VP03-05 American College of Radiology RTOG P-0014 A Phase III Randomized Study of Patients with High Risk Hormone-Naive Prostate Cancer: Androgen Blockade with 4 Cycles of Immediate Chemotherapy vs Androgen Blockade with delayed Chemotherapy Thyra Endicott, MD prostate cancer
VP03-06 American College of Radiology RTOG-9811 A Phase III Randomized Study of 5-Fluorouracil, Mitomycin-C, and Radiotherapy Versus 5-Fluorouracil, Cisplatin and Radiotherapy in Carcinoma of the Anal Canal Thyra Endicott, MD gasto- intestinal cancer