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Internationally renowned surgeon Angelita Habr-Gama, MD, PhD, named 2014 ASTRO Honorary Member
Date:7/16/2014

ot offer this operation anymore without at least a suspicion that the tumor was still there and without a thorough discussion with the patient," Dr. Habr-Gama said. "This led us to start reassessment of response eight weeks after completion of chemoradiation therapy instead of immediately scheduling an operation. When I started reassessing these patients, I realized that some tumors actually completely disappeared on clinical evaluation."

This assessment led to Dr. Habr-Gama's landmark paper, "Operative versus nonoperative treatment for stage 0 distal rectal cancer following chemoradiation therapy: long-term results," published in the Annals of Surgery in October 2004. Her team's research showed a 100 percent five-year overall survival rate and complete clinical response of the primary tumor in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer treated with chemoradiation therapy and managed only with observation. Two patients experienced local failures; however, they were successfully managed without radical resection. This strategy avoids the surgery that has been the standard of care for this disease.

"This approach has been criticized for years. All of the downsides and potential harms have been pointed out, and we have worked hard to demonstrate that, in experienced hands, this is a safe and valid alternative that has to be considered individually for each patient," continued Dr. Habr-Gama.

Dr. Habr-Gama is a strong advocate for the role of radiation therapy in rectal cancer treatment, explaining the benefit of preoperative radiation for rectal cancer and encouraging investigators to reconsider before marginalizing radiation from the standard treatment of rectal cancer.

"Many people outside of Latin America thought I was a radiation oncologist," Dr. Habr-Gama said. "I am a big proponent of preoperative radiation because I know it works and because our fantastic group of radiation oncologists have made us comfortable with the proces
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Contact: Michelle Kirkwood
michellek@astro.org
703-286-1600
American Society for Radiation Oncology
Source:Eurekalert  

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Internationally renowned surgeon Angelita Habr-Gama, MD, PhD, named 2014 ASTRO Honorary Member
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