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Fox Chase Establishes Gerald E Hanks Endowed Chair in Radiation Oncology; Alan Pollack Becomes First to Hold the Distinction

PHILADELPHIA (April 28, 2005) -- Fox Chase Cancer Center announces the establishment of The Gerald E Hanks Endowed Chair in Radiation Oncology. Endowed for $1.5 million, the new chair honors Gerald E Hanks, MD, who served as Fox Chase's chairman of radiation oncology from 1985 until he retired in 2001.

Alan Pollack, MD, PhD, who succeeded Hanks as chairman, has been named the first holder of the Hanks Chair. Contributions from Fox Chase faculty, staff, grateful patients of Hanks and friends of Fox Chase provide support for this new endowment.

Fox Chase colleagues and patients honored Hanks at a special tea this April when he made a return visit from California along with wife, Barbara Fowble, MD, who served as clinical director of radiation oncology at Fox Chase until 2001.

"The Hanks Chair in Radiation Oncology is a lasting legacy to honor Dr Hanks' innovative contributions in the treatment of prostate cancer as well as his genuine compassion towards his patients," said Robert C Young, MD, president of Fox Chase Cancer Center.

"When he came, Dr Hanks had a vision for where he wanted to take the department," Young continued. "He proved the significance of radiation oncology in cancer treatment by leading multiple studies setting the benchmark for treatment. Under his leadership, Fox Chase developed a world-class radiation oncology program.

"As the Center continues to expand, it is fitting that we pay special tribute to an outstanding clinician who has contributed significantly to making Fox Chase Cancer Center what it is today. This chair will provide support for the detection, treatment and prevention of cancer while fostering creative science in radiation oncology well into this new century."

Having published more than 300 papers on prostate cancer, Hanks is recognized worldwide for his expertise in the field. He pioneered the use of three-dimensional, conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT), which shapes the radiation beam to conform to the shape of the tumor. This approach eradicates cancer cells while sparing nearby healthy cells and reducing the side effects of traditional treatment. Fox Chase initiated the 3D-CRT program in 1988. First used for prostate cancer, this therapy has become routine for many cancer sites and is now used by hospitals around the world.

In addition to pioneering new therapeutic techniques, Hanks was instrumental in establishing guidelines and new standards for quality of care. A leading authority on quality assurance in radiation oncology, he has been a principal investigator for national Patterns of Care Studies, which monitor radiation therapy nationwide.

For men at high risk of prostate cancer, Hanks established the Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program at Fox Chase in 1996. It offers not only screening but also education about risk factors and how to reduce them, genetic counseling and the opportunity to take part in prevention-oriented research.

Like Hanks, Pollack is an internationally recognized expert in prostate cancer and other genitourinary cancers. He came to Fox Chase in 2001 from the University of Texas - MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he headed the genitourinary section of the radiation oncology department and served as associate medical director of the genitourinary treatment center.

"Dr Hanks has been dedicated to the advancement of medicine through research," said Pollack. "These funds will allow us to expand our fellowship program, which will have a significant impact on the department's research objectives.

"The department of radiation oncology attracts fellows interested in research in physics, radiobiology and clinical radiation oncology. The Hanks Chair will help support clinical and research fellows who spend a year or more in the department, providing a great opportunity to broaden our training efforts and significantly contribute to the field of radiation oncology in Dr Hanks' name."

Under Pollack's leadership, Fox Chase became the first center in the Delaware Valley to treat prostate cancer patients regularly with intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT. The latest in a new generation of radiation treatment, IMRT allows radiation oncologists to administer powerful radiation doses to the tumor with extremely high precision while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.

Like 3D-CRT, IMRT has conformal capability, but IMRT allows the radiation beams to vary in intensity. The radiation can be maximized where the tumor is thickest and minimized when it is near healthy tissue. Patients experience fewer side effects with IMRT than with 3D-CRT.

By allowing the precise delivery of higher doses at each treatment session, IMRT also shortens treatment time for patients. In addition to prostate cancer, IMRT now is used to treat patients with breast cancer and selected other cancers.

Pollack received his PhD in microbiology and immunology from the University of Miami in 1979 and served as a research health scientist and an assistant professor there until 1985. He earned his MD from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1987 and interned at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital. He completed his residency in radiation therapy at MD Anderson, where he joined the staff as an assistant professor in 1992 and became full professor in 1999.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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