Kiri Cook, M.D., is an assistant professor of radiation medicine.
What’s been the most interesting development in your area in the last two years?
Within radiation oncology, one of the most exciting developments has been the role ablative radiation can play in oligometastatic disease. Though the understanding of the oligometastatic disease has been evolving for many years, recent data, such as the SABR-COMET trial, has shown promise for radiation to improve survival in this setting. This is one of the most active areas of research, with trials open at a number of institutions worldwide. My hope is that we continue to broaden the window of curability for patients with cancer.
What projects are you currently working on and are there opportunities for fellow faculty to participate?
Some of my research interests include improving the patient’s experience during radiation therapy by investigating education techniques, as well as improving our assessment and delivery of supportive care needs. In particular, I am investigating the use of a pictorial education guide for women undergoing radiation for breast cancer, with the hopes that a visual representation of the expected side effects will reduce the anxiety associated with treatment. Additionally, I am trying to find ways to improve patients’ ability to communicate their need for services that may be difficult to discuss with their providers such as mental health, sexual health or palliative care. I would love to collaborate with anyone who is interested!
A hypothetical: If you could have one tool that would solve a seemingly impenetrable problem in your work, what would it do? You have unlimited resources to design this tool, so think big.
The outcomes for many cancers are improved when patients are treated with a multidisciplinary approach. However, radiation treatment can be several weeks long, making it difficult for patients who live far from a radiation center and/or have responsibilities at work or home. Radiation facilities are not ubiquitous and can be especially hard to access for rural and underserved populations. I wish we had a way to make radiation treatment shorter without compromising efficacy or toxicity, to relieve the time burden on patients and improve access to care.
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