University of Utah medical physicist Dennis D. Leavitt, Ph.D., who is nationally recognized for his contributions to cancer research, education, and clinical care through radiation oncology, will receive the Utah American Cancer Societys highest honor—the 'Sword of Hope' award.
Leavitt, professor and chief of the Division of Medical Physics in the U School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology, will receive the award Saturday at the societys 60th anniversary History of Hope Gala at the Salt Lake City Library. Other recipients this year include Clifford Reusch, M.D., and the Utah Department of Health Cancer Control Program.
A teacher who has trained radiation oncologists at the U medical school for 27 years, Leavitt is widely regarded for his ability to transfer new research and technology into clinical use, according to Dr. Kenneth Hogstrom of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
"His work in electron arc therapy and the X-ray dynamic wedge has benefited the management of breast disease using radiation therapy," Hogstrom said. "These two advances have helped decrease some of the occasional side effects experienced by patients receiving breast radiotherapy."
Arc electron therapy minimizes the chance of the breast wall becoming fibrotic after a mastectomy, and the dynamic wedge limits radiation doses to noncancerous parts of the breast during therapy. Leavitt was instrumental in developing both techniques. He also created the first dynamic field shaping collimator, which enables precision treatment of brain tumors during radiosurgery.
In addition to developing radiation therapy techniques, Leavitt also has contributed to 64 scientific publications and received 19 research grants and contracts.
The American Cancer Society annually presents it Sword of Hope Award to individuals or groups that have made exceptional contributions to fighting cancer. Past recipients include Jan Graham, former Utah Attorney General; Jon Huntsman, industrialist, philanthropist, and founder of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and Dick Nourse, longtime TV newscaster.