Colorado’s cancer leaders plan symposium to explore new discoveries in radiation therapy

Calling all oncologists, cancer researchers and radiological scientists: Colorado State University and the University of Colorado are hosting the Photon, Proton and Carbon Ion Radiotherapy Symposium in late July to explore the latest in radiation as a cancer treatment.

The symposium will present advances in basic, translational and clinical research. Speakers represent leading research and treatment facilities, including University of Munich, Massachusetts General Hospital, Duke University Cancer Center and Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The scientific meeting is set July 31 to Aug. 1 on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver. Registration is open, and information is available at

“Radiation oncology is by nature multidisciplinary as it draws on physics, biology and medicine,” said Jac Nickoloff, head of the CSU Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. “This symposium is unique in its focus on all three radiation modalities that have proven effective in cancer treatment.”

Radiation is a common treatment for cancer patients; most in the United States receive traditional photon or proton radiotherapy.

Yet there is a growing interest in carbon ion radiation as a treatment for deadly cancers. The National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan has pioneered use of carbon ion radiotherapy to precisely target a range of difficult tumors, such as head and neck tumors, bone and soft-tissue tumors, and lung, prostate, rectal and pancreatic cancers.

The CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has collaborated for several years with the institute near Tokyo to better understand the possibilities with carbon ion radiotherapy and to explore its use for cancer patients in the United States.

“Our partnership is hugely beneficial as the institute now has more than 20 years of clinical experience with this lifesaving treatment option,” Nickoloff said. “Photon and proton radiotherapy are well-established in the U.S. and the world, but carbon ion radiotherapy is only available in Japan, Germany and Italy.”

One purpose of the upcoming symposium is to promote development of carbon ion radiobiology research and clinical facilities in the United States to give the nation’s cancer patients a third radiotherapy option, he said.

Symposium presenters are: the National Institute of Radiological Sciences of Japan; the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; the CSU Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences; the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center; University of Colorado Health; the CU Anschutz Medical Campus; the CU Cancer Center; and the CU Department of Radiation Oncology.