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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr. Nicholas Zaorsky’s international research has several themes.

First, he writes guidelines for the treatment of prostate cancer. His work centers on the indications, contraindications, logistics and toxicities of different treatment modalities to ensure quality patient care and institutional standards.

Second, his work centers on oncologic meta-analyses, which combine international data to provide summary statements with the highest-level evidence to compare treatments. One of the themes of his work is dose fractionation in radiation oncology - the ideal doses that should be used to treat cancer.

Third, Dr. Zaorsky is an expert in oncology-epidemiology, that is, the study of public health and oncology. His works identify patients who are at highest risk of death from cancer vs. other causes and to compare the effectiveness of different treatment options for cancer. His work has led to the design of clinical trials that focus on lifestyle modification (such as with exercise therapy and diet) for the treatment of cancer.

At Penn State, Dr. Zaorsky has integrated these research interests in the design of his clinical trial Exercise + Radiation Therapy (EXERT). The American Cancer Society, National Comprehensive Cancer Network and American College of Sports Medicine recommend exercise therapy to improve outcomes and limit toxicity. However, to date, most clinical studies of exercise therapy are limited to patients receiving chemotherapy or those with localized (non-metastatic) breast or prostate cancer. The rationale for the EXERT study is that 60 percent of cancer patients receive radiation therapy, and few studies have assessed the role of radiation therapy and exercise therapy outside of localized prostate and breast cancer, two disease sites where survival is generally excellent, and toxicities are limited. The long-term goal is to identify potential for exercise therapy to improve radiation therapy treatment outcomes and toxicities among cancer patients.

Clinical interests

As a radiation oncologist, Dr. Nicholas Zaorsky is a proponent of multidisciplinary care, which refers to doctors who specialize in different medical areas (such as radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiologists and pathologists) working together to provide the most comprehensive treatment plan for patients.

Dr. Zaorsky treats all patients as family members, and he is passionate about alleviating health disparities and helping underserved minorities, including Spanish-speaking patients.

Dr. Zaorsky is an international expert in the treatment of prostate cancer. He is the lead author of the American College of Radiology guidelines of radiotherapy treatment planning (Advances in Radiation Oncology, 2016) and the international review on brachytherapy (Nature Reviews Urology, 2017). Further, he is editor of two textbooks - Prostate Cancer: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Diagnosis and Management (Demos Medical, 2014) and Absolute Clinical Radiation Oncology Review (Springer Nature, 2018).

In the clinic, Dr. Zaorsky has expertise using external beam radiation therapy with intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT), 3D conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT), image guided radiation therapy (IGRT), hypofractionated radiation therapy (also termed short-course radiation therapy), stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT, also termed extremely hypofractionation or very-short-course radiation therapy) and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). Further, he has expertise in high-dose-rate brachytherapy (HDR-BT, temporary implants), low-dose-rate brachytherapy (LDR-BT, permanent seed implants) and radiopharmaceuticals (such as I-131 and Ra-223).

Dr. Zaorsky serves as the Chief of the Radiation Oncology Genitourinary Cancer Program as well as the Director of the Radiation Oncology Research Program.

Professional information

Board-certified in Radiation Oncology, American Board of Radiology, 2018

Education/Academic qualification

Radiation Oncology, Residency, Fox Chase Cancer Center


Research Fellowship, Jefferson Medical College

Jun 2012Jun 2013

Internship (PGY-1), Thomas Jefferson University

Jun 2011Jun 2012

MD, Temple University

Jul 2007Jun 2011

External positions

Chief Author, American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria Panel for Prostate Cancer

Chief Author, American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria Panel for Prostate Cancer


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