Byron C. May, M.D., conducts research focused on the integration of new immunotherapies (pembrolizumab) with radiotherapy for adult soft tissue sarcoma of the extremities. The efficacy, as well as both the acute and chronic toxicity of this treatment, is being investigated. Dr. May is also analyzing the etiology and various impacts of distress patients with cancer experience in the radiation clinic setting.
Another research area studied by Dr. May is the unusual and poorly understood late toxicity of radiation therapy (radiation recall) that patients experience, particularly in association with immunotherapy.
- Soft tissue sarcoma. Dr. May functions as a co-investigator for protocol SARC032, which randomizes patients with high-risk extremity soft tissue sarcoma to neoadjuvant radiotherapy followed by surgery with or without pembrolizumab. Detailed patient data is being collected to establish safety and effectiveness.
- Patient-reported distress. Dr. May is analyzing the potential adverse effects of patient-reported distress (PRD) during cancer therapy. A significant link has been found between high levels of PRD and diminished survival among patients treated for cure with radiation therapy. This same cohort had significantly higher medical expenses as well.
- Radiation recall. Dr. May is reviewing records of patients who have experienced this unusual phenomenon to better understand the incidence, etiology and severity in the recent era of immunotherapy.
Significance to patient care
Dr. May's goal is to improve the rate of limb preservation and overall survival in patients with extremity soft tissue sarcoma, a potentially debilitating and deadly neoplasm. He also hopes to better predict which patients may experience radiation recall in the modern era of immunotherapy in an effort to avoid this toxicity. In addition, by identifying radiation patients under distress and understanding better how distress adversely impacts patient outcomes, Dr. May aims to propose effective intervention strategies in the radiation clinic.