July 11, 2013

Brown to lead new Interventional Oncology division

Daniel Brown, M.D., has been named chief of Interventional Oncology, a new division within the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences.

Daniel Brown, M.D., has been named chief of Interventional Oncology, a new division within the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences.

Daniel Brown, M.D.

Brown comes to Vanderbilt from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, where he was chief of Interventional Radiology, professor of Radiology and a member of the Kimmel Cancer Center.

Interventional oncology is a cutting-edge, rapidly advancing field that uses image-guided technology to directly target solid tumors.

“I am thrilled to have Dr. Brown lead this innovative program. Under his leadership, we will work together with our medical, surgical and radiation oncology colleagues within the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center to improve the care of patients with solid tumors,” said Reed Omary, M.D., M.S., Carol D. & Henry P. Pendergrass Professor and Chair of the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences.

Patients are often unfamiliar with the burgeoning interventional oncology subspecialty. It even can be confused with radiation oncology, but Brown said the fields take a different approach.

“Radiation oncology treats from the outside in to kill a tumor. Interventional oncology works from the inside out, and everything we do is with imaging guidance, which lets us be very precise, down to the level of a few millimeters,” Brown said.

Chemotherapy, surgery and radiation have been mainstays of cancer treatment, and Brown says interventional oncology is “another tool in the toolbox.”

“There is so much room to grow and work collaboratively with other departments. Often patients have had surgery and reached the limits of radiation and chemotherapy and still develop a new tumor. That’s where interventional oncology is playing a large role,” Brown said.

Most interventional oncology procedures fall into two categories — arterial or ablative. Arterial treatments use a tumor’s vasculature to deliver microscopic beads infused with radioactive material or chemotherapy. The most common procedure is called yttrium-90 radioembolization.

“The radioembolization procedures are all outpatient. The patients feel better quicker, and they get to sleep in their own bed the night after getting cancer therapy. I think that’s very important psychologically,” Brown said.

Radioembolization is used in primary liver cancer and metastatic cancers, including colorectal cancer, breast cancer and neuroendocrine tumors.

Ablative therapies use needles to either heat (radiofrequency or microwave ablation) or freeze (cryoablation) a tumor, and are used primarily in the liver, kidneys, lungs and bone.

Brown hopes to have three full-time faculty members in the division within 3-4 years and have a robust diversity of cases for educating residents and fellows.

He plans to collaborate with researchers in the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science and VICC to develop new therapies and targets for interventional oncology.

As more research studies demonstrate the safety and efficacy of interventional oncology, Brown says these procedures will soon be integrated into standard care algorithms, instead of viewed as alternative therapies.

“This is a great time to watch this field take off as evidence continues to mount. I’m really excited about the opportunity to build this program at Vanderbilt and make it an institutional leader in the field.”

Brown attended medical school at Hahnemann Medical College (now Drexel University College of Medicine), and performed a residency in Radiology at Bryn Mawr Hospital and a fellowship in Interventional Radiology at Penn State University. He practiced at Washington University in St. Louis for nine years before moving to Thomas Jefferson.