Levine Cancer Institute Physicians Recently Published for Innovative Research

Edward S. Kim, MD

Edward S. Kim, MD
Chair of the Department of Solid Tumor Oncology and Investigational Therapeutics

Physicians at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Cancer Institute have recently been published for their significant research studies in some of the nation’s most prominent oncology journals.

Edward S. Kim, MD, chair of the department of solid tumor oncology and investigational therapeutics at the Institute is lead author on a study that demonstrates the relative ineffectiveness of a drug used to treat a certain population of lung cancer patients. Results from the Phase III clinical trial were published in Lancet Oncology, and suggest that there is no benefit associated with using the drug, cetuximab, to improve progression-free survival in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who have undergone traditional, platinum-based therapy treatment.

Edward Copelan, MD

Edward Copelan, MD
Chair of the Department of Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders

“The results from this study indicate that cetuximab in combination with chemotherapy is not an effective treatment option for this patient population,” said Dr. Kim. “There is a need for the development of targeted therapies that include appropriately identified biomarkers in an individual’s tumor. Challenges still remain as we try to determine the best, and most appropriate, way to treat lung cancer patients.”

Patients in the study who were given cetuximab in addition to chemotherapy were more likely to experience adverse side effects than patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment by itself, according to the findings.

Edward Copelan, MD, and Belinda Avalos, MD, chair and vice chair of the department of hematologic oncology and blood disorders at Levine Cancer Institute, recently led a large international study with practice-changing implications for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. The study was selected as the plenary article for publication in Blood, which is the nation’s leading hematology journal.

Belinda Avalos, MD

Belinda Avalos, MD
Vice Chair of the Department of Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders

The study, from the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, analyzed more than 1,200 patients who underwent transplantation from siblings or unrelated donors to compare the effectiveness of BuCy (a combination of the chemotherapy drugs cyclophosphamide and buslufan) and CyTBI (cyclophosphamide and total body irradiation) for the treatment of AML. The findings significantly favor the use of BuCy, due to improved transplant-related mortality and overall survival rates, as well as ease of administration.

Under Drs. Copelan and Avalos’ leadership, the Institute is dramatically expanding its Hematology-Oncology program including the development of a translational research lab devoted to testing new therapies and treatments for blood cancer patients. Also, the Institute recently opened the first and only adult blood and marrow unit available in the Charlotte region at Carolinas Medical Center. This new state-of-the-art hematologic malignancies unit allows patients to receive bone marrow transplants and post-operative care closer to home, as the treatment and recovery process can last up to six weeks.

Roshan Prabhu, MD

Roshan Prabhu, MD
Radiation Oncologist

Roshan Prabhu, MD, a radiation oncologist at the Institute, authored a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, which has practice-changing implications for patients diagnosed with brain tumors. Findings from the new study provide evidence that a more intensive therapy regimen, including chemotherapy, for patients with low-grade gliomas can delay tumor recurrence and, perhaps most importantly, is not detrimental to cognitive functioning. 

“Results are significant in that both oncologists and patients now can have more confidence in pursuing a potentially new standard of care that combines radiation therapy with chemotherapy for treating low-grade glioma,” said Dr. Prabhu. “This patient population has a median survival of 9-10 years with the disease, which is an extended period of time during which cognitive functioning could be impaired. It’s important that long-term cognitive functioning, and resulting quality of life, is considered when determining the appropriate treatment for these patients.”

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