Professor and Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Seeking to improve outcomes in breast cancer by combining targeted therapies with radiation therapy.
Multiple studies are ongoing to test targeted therapies in combination with radiation. A clinical trial is planned to test an accelerated course of radiation therapy after breast surgery.
These studies are providing insight into novel strategies to enhance the effect of radiation therapy and improve outcomes for breast cancer patients.
Dr. Haffty's laboratory is working to identify new therapeutic strategies to enhance outcomes following radiation therapy in women with breast cancer. His team has been busy investigating potential molecular targets for combination with radiation therapy. Preliminary work indicates that targeting a cell death protein called TRAIL in combination with radiation therapy may be effective against triple negative breast cancers, which typically does not respond well to radiation therapy.
Breast cancers with a deletion in a gene called PTEN respond well to the combination of radiation and anti-TRAIL therapy, whereas those without the deletion do not respond as well. This could potentially identify patients most likely benefit from this approach. They are also studying the possible mechanisms of resistance to the therapy to determine whether cancer stem cells are involved.
Another potential target for combination therapy is a molecular marker called leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). LIF is associated with increased metastasis and radiation resistance. Experiments are underway to determine if targeting LIF in combination with radiation will be an effective therapeutic strategy.
Finally, Dr. Haffty is conducting clinical trials to test whether shortening the number of weeks of radiation is as effective as the standard dosing. In a report published this year, they showed that shortening the time of radiation from 5-6 weeks to 3 weeks, even in patients receiving radiation to the breast and regional lymph nodes was safe and effective with comparable estimated local and distant recurrence rates to conventional therapy. You can read more about this study on BCRF's progress report blog. They are now initiating a Phase III study to assess whether the shorter and accelerated radiation therapy increases complications in breast construction.
Bruce G. Haffty, MD is Professor and Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School and Associate Director, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. His medical school training, internship, residency and chief residency was at Yale. Dr. Haffty was a Professor of Yale’s Department of Therapeutic Radiology, served as residency program director from 1992-2004, and Vice Chairman and Clinical Director from 2002-2005. He moved to the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Cancer Institute of New Jersey in 2005.
Dr. Haffty’s clinical area of expertise is breast cancer, and he has focused on outcomes and prognostic factors women undergoing radiation therapy, evaluating novel molecular markers and potential targets, for which he has had many research grants and conducted numerous clinical and translational research programs. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed articles and 30 book chapters. He is consistently listed as one of the country’s leading physicians by Best Doctors in America and Top Doctors in New York and New Jersey. In addition to a busy clinical practice, Dr. Haffty has served on numerous national committees related to research and education in breast cancer and radiation oncology. He is currently an Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Haffty is a Past President of the American Board of Radiology and the American Radium Society, past Chairman of the Residency Review Committee in Radiation Oncology, and the current President and incoming Chairman of the Board of the American Society for Radiation Oncology.