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Research and Scholarly Activity

Clinical Trials & Research

Clinicians and academic researchers in the Sentara Cancer Network partner with Virginia Oncology Associates, Eastern Virginia Medical School, George Mason University and other national and local healthcare organizations to conduct research that elevates patient care.  We offer research throughout the Sentara system, with a focus in Hampton Roads and Blue Ridge regions.

We are a proud and productive member in good standing of The Alliance for Clinical Trials for Oncology, funded by the National Cancer Institute. As a leading contributor to national research, we are committed to participating in promising clinical trials that make new first-line therapies available to patients right now. Our team also participates in research that may lead to better options for prevention, diagnosis and treatment in the future. One constant goal is to improve our patients’ quality of life.  These studies below represent a sample of our diverse research activities.

For more information about our clinical trials and research, visit the Sentara Health Research Center.

Sentara Cancer Network Clinical Trial Accruals

Breast Cancer Research

A clinical trial (National Cancer Institute Trial “Comparison of Axillary Lymph Node Dissection With Axillary Radiation for Patients With Node-Positive Breast Cancer Treated With Chemotherapy” A011202) is underway at Sentara hospitals in Hampton Roads and at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital to determine whether women with node-positive breast cancer can forego axillary lymph node dissection during surgery and receive only radiation. This conservative approach would reduce the occurrence of painful lymphedema and help patients return to daily activities faster.

Women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a noninvasive breast cancer, typically get some form of treatment, such as a lumpectomy or radiation. The Comparison of Operative to Monitoring and Endocrine Therapy (COMET) trial is testing an active surveillance approach similar to what doctors use to closely monitor prostate cancer in men. Breast specialists aggressively watch for signs of change, initiating treatment only when absolutely necessary.  This study is currently offered in Hampton Roads.

At Sentara Rockingham Medical Hospital, Dr. Heather Morgan wrote a Phase III Randomized protocol to Compare Miaderm with Mometasone alone plus Best Supportive Care to  Prevent Radiation Dermatitis in Patients Undergoing Breast Irradiation.  The purpose of this research study is to determine if a skincare cream provides additional benefit to the use of Mometasone in preventing the skin reaction caused by radiation therapy.  This study opened to enrollment in March 2017 and has an enrollment of 95 patients to date.

Lung Cancer Research

We are enrolling patients with non-small cell lung cancer into the Adjuvant Lung Cancer Enrichment Marker Identification and Sequencing Trial (ALCHEMIST). The study looks for genetic markers for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) rearrangements to help determine if a patient will benefit from targeted therapy. If patients are identified with these mutations, they continue on to a treatment study focused on targeted therapy directed at treating that specific mutation.

Head and Neck Cancer Research

We are enrolling patients into an NCI funded clinical trial for locoregionally advanced head and neck cancer patients who have a contraindication to Cisplatin.  The patients are randomized to either radiotherapy with concurrent Durvalumab or concurrent Cetuximab, in an effort to establish a chemotherapy regimen with fewer side effects.  This study is enrolling at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

Basic Science Research

We are collaborating on several projects with George Mason University.  Most recently, we have provided biospecimens from consented patients who are identified with suspicious mammograms who need a biopsy.  GMU is using special mass spectrometry and nanotechnology to identify new, unique biomarkers in hopes to develop a test to be used in conjunction with mammography to improve the accuracy of detecting breast cancer.

We have partnered with Lifenet and the Institute for Regenerative Medicine to provide them tumor samples so they can test new methods for growing tumors in a lab.  The goal is to be able to quickly grow microtumors from these samples, test multiple chemotherapy options and potentially provide better patient directed therapy guidance to physicians.

We also continue to provide biospecimens to the Eastern Virginia Medical School biorepository for current and future research in cancer testing. 

2021 Oncology Publications

Cancer screenings during COVID-19 pandemic: “Undiagnosed Crisis: Health officials’ warning on skipped cancer screenings during the pandemic”, 13 News Now Article, December 2021.

Sentara Cancer Network warns colon cancer screenings plummet during pandemic: Sentara Cancer Networks warns colon cancer screenings plummet during pandemic | Sentara Healthcare Sentara Internal Publication, March 2021.

Pink Promise: Sentara launches ‘The Pink Promise’ for Breast Cancer Awareness Month | Sentara Healthcare Sentara Internal Publication, October 2021.

Mammogram scheduling and COVID-19 Vaccination: Sentara Cancer Network recommends mammograms be scheduled around COVID-19 vaccination | Sentara Healthcare Sentara Internal Publication, February 2021.

Cancer during COVID-19 Patient Story: Prince William Living Magazine: October 2021

Introduction of PET Services to SNVMC Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Offers PET/CT Services | Prince William Living: Prince William Living  Magazine, October 2021.

Valente SA, Tendulkar RD, Cherian S, Shah C, Ross DL, Lottich SC, Loranga C, Broman KK, Donnelly ED, Bethke KP, Shaw C, Lockney NA, Pederson A, Rudolph R, Hasselle M, Kelemen P, Hermanto U, Ashikari A, Kang S, Hoefer RA, McCready D, Fyles A, Escallon J, Rohatgi N, Graves J, Graves G, Willey SC, Tousimis E, Riley L, Deb N, Tu C, Small W, Grobmyer SR.  TARGIT-R (Retrospective): 5-Year Follow-up Evaluation of Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) for Breast Cancer Performed in North America. Ann Surg Oncol (2021) 28: 2512-2521.

Vaidya JS, Bulsara M, Baum M, Wenz F, Massarut S, Pigorsch S, Alvarado M, Douek M, Saunders C, Flyger H, Eirmann W, Brew-Graves C, Williams NR, Potyka I, Roberts N, Bernstein M, Brown D, Sperk E, Laws S, Sutterlin M, Corica T, Lundgren S,  Holmes D, Vinante L, Bozza F, Pazos M, Le Blanc-Onfroy M, Gruber G, Polkowski P, Dedes KJ, Niewald M, Blohmer J, McReady D, Hoefer R, Kelemen P, Petralia G, Falzon M, Falzon M, Joseph D, Tobias JS. New clinical and biological insights from the international TARGIT-A randomized trial of targeted intraoperative radiotherapy during lumpectomy for breast cancer.  BJC (2021)

Hoefer RA, Obiora C, Azab B, Harden EA, Kessler JF. Combined modality therapy including cytoreductive surgery and heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy for synchronous low volume peritoneal carcinomatosis from adenocarcinoma of the tail of pancreas in a BRCA-2 carrier resulting in long-term disease-free survival: A case report. J Int Surg, Case Reports (2021)

2021 Oncology Presentations

“Breast Cancer Awareness, Prevention and the Importance of Screening”. Virtual Event.

“It’s About the Total Package” – Women’s Health Summit in conjunction with Ivy Baptist Church. In Person/Facebook Live.

“Lung Cancer Awareness” Lunch and Learn with Dr. Cristopher Wilms and Frank McKenna. In person.

“Lung Cancer Awareness” virtual event in partnership with LUNGevity Foundation, Sentara Mid-Atlantic Cardiothoracic Surgeons and Virginia Oncology Associates. Virtual Event.

“Lung Cancer Awareness, Prevention and the Importance of Screening”. Virtual Event.

“What You Need to Know” Lung Cancer Screening Educational Event with Dr. Sherif El-Mady. Virtual Event.

“Code R.E.D. Prostate Cancer Disparity and Early Detection” Summit with Dr. Jordan Asher.

“Men’s Health Summit: Prostate Cancer Education and Screening” Events with Hampton Roads Prostate Health Forum in Hampton and Portsmouth. In Person Event.

“Summit on Men’s Health” in partnership with Urology of Virginia.

“New Treatments for Blood Cancers” with Virginia Oncology Associates and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Virtual Event.

“Myleoma 101” with Virginia Oncology Associates and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Virtual Event.

Good Morning Washington/WJLA Interview: Dr. Geoffrey Moorer and Deana Henry, October 2021.

“COVID-19” Virtual Class/Support Group through Sentara Cancer Network.

“Outreach, Prevention and Early Detection: Sentara Cancer Network Resource Center Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer Awareness and Men’s Health” videos. YouTube, October 2021.