At the Meetings

American Association for Cancer Research

A New 3D Model System Developed to Mimic Mechanical Aspects of Pancreatic Cancer

The scar-like fibrous tumor microenvironment known as desmoplasia is believed to be a major player in the progression of pancreatic cancer, yet its underlying biology and biomechanical influences remain poorly understood. Researchers recently presented a new multidisciplinary approach using a 3D human tissue mimetic model to study how human pancreatic fibrous extracellular matrices (ECMs) interact with pancreatic cancer cells displaying common pancreatic cancer mutations, such as lack of p53 and constitutively active KRAS.

Ruchi-Malik-revThey combined cell-derived ECM and bioengineered materials with tunable stiffnesses mimicking the mechanical and chemical properties of pancreatic desmoplasia and compared them to ones found in this organ under non-cancerous conditions. Cells respond to specific biomechanical as well as biochemical properties of the various ECMs by changing specific intracellular signal transduction pathways that lead to alterations in cancer cell behaviors such as accelerated growth. The findings were presented by Ruchi Malik, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate at Fox Chase Cancer Center and Temple University, during the 2015 AACR Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

The research constitutes a collaboration between the laboratories of Edna Cukierman, PhD, associate professor at Fox Chase and Peter Lelkes, PhD, professor and chair of bioengineering at Temple.

American Urological Association

Copy Number Alterations in Sarcomatoid RCC Examined

Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center compared copy number alterations in sarcomatoid renal cell carcinoma (RCC) to those in clear cell, papillary, and chromophobe RCC to identify unique changes that might harbor genetic drivers of sarcomatoid RCC. The results were presented at the 2015 AUA Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Tim-Ito-revTimothy Ito, MD, a surgical oncology fellow at Fox Chase, along with Joseph R. Testa, PhD, co-leader of Fox Chase’s Cancer Biology Program, and colleagues examined SNP microarrays performed on macrodissected tissue from 81 tumors; 17 had sarcomatoid differentiation. Copy number alterations present in more than 25% of the cases were deemed significant, and significant copy number alterations in sarcomatoid specimens were compared to those found in the other histologic subtypes. Sarcomatoid tumors had significantly higher numbers of copy number alterations when compared to other histologies. Copy number alterations that occurred significantly more frequently in sarcomatoid tumors included losses of chromosome arms 9q, 15q, 18p and q, and 22q, as well as gains of chromosome arms 1q and 8q.

The researchers reported that 9 of the sarcomatoid tumors arose in a background of clear cell RCC, 2 in papillary RCC, 2 in mixed clear cell and papillary RCC, and 4 in unclassified RCC. Sarcomatoid patients presented significantly more often with lymph node or distant metastatic disease, and patients with sarcomatoid tumors experienced a significantly worse overall survival. Patients with higher numbers of copy number alterations also experienced significantly worse overall survival.

Ito and colleagues concluded that sarcomatoid differentiation is associated with a high rate of chromosomal imbalances. Further examination of candidate genes on chromosome arms uniquely altered in sarcomatoid tumors may provide more insight into drivers of this aggressive phenotype.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

Developing Targeted and Immune Therapies for Colorectal Cancer Molecular Subtypes

Wafik El-Deiry, MD, PhD, FACP, and colleagues from Fox Chase Cancer Center recently collaborated with Caris Life Sciences®, a biotechnology company headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, to conduct three separate studies related to precision medicine, particularly in colorectal cancers. The findings were highlighted at the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting.

“There is exciting progress in the treatment of colorectal cancer. Understanding the impact of genetic mutations on the potential likelihood of response to new treatments helps pave the way for defining their optimal use,” says El-Deiry, deputy cancer center director for translational research and co-leader of the Molecular Therapeutics Program at Fox Chase.

El-Deiry has collaborated with Caris Life Sciences® for several years on colorectal cancer genomic profiling.

Going to the 2015 ASH Annual Meeting?

Please join us at a special
Fox Chase Cancer Center reception
Saturday, December 5, 2015, 7:30–9:30 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Orlando
Register online at

National Comprehensive Cancer Network

Survivorship Care Guidelines for Non-Small Cell Lung and Colorectal Cancers

denlingerMedical oncologist Crystal Denlinger, MD, presented new results from her project titled “Adherence to NCCN Survivorship Care Guidelines in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and Colorectal Cancer (CRC)” at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s 20th annual conference in March. Denlinger and colleagues found that comprehensive assessment guidelines for NSCLC and CRC survivors were not regularly met, although adherence increased somewhat after providers received an educational intervention focused on survivorship care. The research, presented at the conference’s general poster session, was funded through Denlinger’s NCCN Foundation 2012 Young Investigator Award. Denlinger also gave a talk introducing the NCCN’s new guidelines on anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity in cancer survivors.

Olszanski-Anthony-10-7-09In addition to Denlinger, medical oncologist Anthony J. Olszanski, MD, RPh presented at the meeting. He discussed the principles of immunotherapy in a two-part session, the second session of which focused on melanoma, kidney, and lung cancers.

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Cancer Health Disparities Conference

Fox Chase Presents on Disparities in Cancer Prevention and Treatment


In November 2014, Evelyn González (far left), senior director of the Fox Chase Office of Health Communications and Health Disparities, presented at the seventh AACR conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved. During her presentation, González shared information on why it is important to include different racial and ethnic groups when embarking on new and improved methods of cancer screening, prevention, and treatment.

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Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium

GI Clinical Trials Make Meeting Headlines

El-Deiry-Wafik_1Fox Chase was well represented at the annual GI ASCO Symposium in January. Many fellows, residents, and faculty members attended, with nine making poster presentations on topics around esophageal, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers. Medical oncologist Wafik El-Deiry, MD, PhD, FACP, also presented oral abstracts on two anti-angiogenic agents for metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) going through Phase II and III trials. His discussion made headline news at the Symposium.

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Annual Highlight Meetings

San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

goldstein-08In January, Fox Chase hosted its 13th Annual Highlights from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in collaboration with OncLive. Led by Lori J. Goldstein, MD, FASCO, the program included faculty from both Fox Chase Cancer Center and the University of Pennsylvania. More than 170 physicians and nurses attended the program in Philadelphia, which provided relevant updates on the management of breast cancer and premalignant breast disease. The event has come to be regarded by local clinicians as a critical resource for learning about recent research findings and advances in breast cancer care.


American Society of Hematology

Fisher-RichardFung-HenryFollowing the December 2014 ASH Meeting, Fox Chase and the Temple University School of Medicine hosted the inaugural Annual Highlights recap meeting in Philadelphia. The program, led by Henry C. Fung, MD, FACP, featured Richard Fisher, MD, President and CEO of Fox Chase, as well as members of the hematologic oncology faculty and Fox Chase-Temple Bone Marrow Transplant Program. The meeting provided updates on the management of hematologic cancer, stem cell transplantation, and consultative hematology, and was well attended by more than 70 physicians, physician assistants/adult nurse practitioners, and nurses.

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Pan-Pacific Lymphoma Conference

Fisher Presents on Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma Variant

fisher2Presenting at the 2014 Pan-Pacific Lymphoma Conference in Kohala, Hawaii, Fox Chase President and CEO Richard I. Fisher, MD, reviewed the biology, prognosis, and future therapies for double/triple hit, C-MYC alone diffuse large B cell lymphoma, a very aggressive variant that has poor response to standard therapy and poor overall survival. As more clinical research homes in on this disease, Fisher says, “the most provocative question is whether molecular abnormalities in these patients can be successfully targeted with new oral inhibitors.”

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American Society for Radiation Oncology

Patients with HPV-Positive Throat Cancers More Likely to Make Complete Recovery without Surgery

gallowayAt the ASTRO 2014 Annual Meeting, Fox Chase radiation oncologist Thomas Galloway, MD, presented a study showing that patients with human papillomavirus (HPV)–positive oropharyngeal cancer see significantly higher rates of complete response on a post-radiation neck dissection than those without HPV.

After radiation and chemotherapy, many head and neck cancer patients still have persistent lumps in their neck, albeit often smaller than when they were first diagnosed. Because surgery to remove these lumps can cause neck and shoulder problems and difficulty swallowing, Galloway’s team wanted to see if removing the lumps was necessary or if it was safe to let them dissolve on their own.

“Accurately defining which patients have achieved a complete response prior to surgery is of paramount importance,” says Galloway, director of clinical research and lead author on the study.

The team reviewed medical records from 396 patients whose oropharyngeal tumors had spread to at least one lymph node. Within 180 days after completing radiation therapy, 146 patients underwent neck surgery. For 99 patients, their records indicated whether or not their tumors had likely been triggered by HPV. Galloway and his team found that HPV-positive patients’ cancers were less likely to recur, regardless of whether or not the tumors had completely disappeared following treatment. In fact, patients’ HPV status was the strongest predictor of survival to the end of the study.

Among the patients who underwent neck surgery, any lingering lumps were more likely to be benign in patients with HPV, either becoming permanent scars or eventually disappearing.

Currently, it is not routine to consider a patient’s HPV status when deciding whether to perform neck surgery. These findings suggest that perhaps it should be.

This study was supported by a Radiation Therapy Oncology Group and Community Clinical Oncology Program grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Ma Named ASTRO Fellow

maC.M. Charlie Ma, PhD, Fox Chase professor, vice chair of radiation oncology, and director of radiation physics, was named an ASTRO Fellow at the organization’s 56th Annual Meeting. The Fellows Program honors leaders in radiation oncology who have contributed at least 10 years of service to ASTRO and had a substantial impact on the field through their research, leadership, patient care, and education.

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American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

Nurses Discuss ICU Delirium Prevention


At the AACN Clinical Scene Investigator (CSI) Academy Innovation Conference in Philadelphia in September, four Fox Chase ICU nurses—Ashley Moyer, RN, BSN, Kaitlyn Gregory, RN, BSN, Allyson Lloret, RN, BSN, and Erin Longstreth-Papsun, RN, BSN, MSN, OCN —presented a project they developed to facilitate the prevention and early detection of ICU delirium. Fox Chase was one of seven Philadelphia hospitals selected for the CSI Academy, a 16-month nursing leadership and innovation training program designed to empower hospital-based staff nurses to be clinician leaders and change agents whose initiatives measurably improve patient outcomes and hospital bottom lines.

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