Researcher Profile

Researcher Profile

Nicholas Zaorsky, MD

Nicholas Zaorsky, MD

Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology
Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology
Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences
Scientific Program:Cancer Control
Disease Teams:
Breast Cancer
Genitourinary Cancer
Sarcoma Cancer
Thoracic Cancer
Institute for CyberScience (ICS) - Associate

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.

  • Radiotherapy
  • Therapeutics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms
  • Neoplasms
  • Brachytherapy
  • Survival
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Radiation
  • Prostate

Recent Publications


Cummings, M, Lehrer, EJ, Drabick, J, Gusani, NJ, Trifiletti, DM & Zaorsky, N 2019, 'Exceptional responders in oncology: A systematic review and meta-analysis of patient level data', American Journal of Clinical Oncology: Cancer Clinical Trials, vol. 42, no. 8, pp. 624-635.
Zaorsky, N, Spratt, DE & Blanchard, P 2019, 'Re: Marco Moschini, Emanuele Zaffuto, Pierre I. Karakiewicz, et al. External Beam Radiotherapy Increases the Risk of Bladder Cancer When Compared with Radical Prostatectomy in Patients Affected by Prostate Cancer: A Population-based Analysis. Eur Urol 2019;75:319–28' European Urology, vol. 75, no. 4, pp. e96-e97.




Williams, NL, Dan, T, Zaorsky, N, Garg, S & Den, RB 2017, 'The role of genomic techniques in predicting response to radiation therapy' ONCOLOGY (United States), vol. 31, no. 7, pp. 1-11.


Shaikh, T, Churilla, T, Murphy, C, Zaorsky, N, Haber, A, Hallman, M & Meyer, JE 2016, '97O: Overtreatment of patients with clinically diagnosed early stage lung cancer' Journal of Thoracic Oncology, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. S99.
Zaorsky, N & Horwitz, EM 2016, Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer: An Overview. in Prostate Cancer: Science and Clinical Practice: Second Edition. Elsevier Inc., pp. 399-411.
Zaorsky, N, Churilla, TM, Ruth, K, Hayes, SB, Sobczak, ML, Hallman, MA, Smaldone, MC, Chen, DYT & Horwitz, EM 2016, 'Men's health supplement use and outcomes in men receiving definitive intensity-modulated radiation therapy for localized prostate cancer1-3' American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 104, no. 6, pp. 1583-1593.
Guo, J, Zinner, R, Zaorsky, N, Guo, W & Lu, B 2016, 'Systemic therapy for echinoderm microtubule-associated proteinlike 4 anaplastic lymphoma kinase non-small cell lung cancer brain metastases' Journal of Thoracic Disease, vol. 8, no. 9, pp. E1028-E1031.


Wang, LS, Murphy, CT, Ruth, K, Zaorsky, N, Smaldone, MC, Sobczak, ML, Kutikov, A, Viterbo, R & Horwitz, EM 2015, 'Impact of obesity on outcomes after definitive dose-escalated intensity-modulated radiotherapy for localized prostate cancer' Cancer, vol. 121, no. 17, pp. 3010-3017.
Zaorsky, N, Hurwitz, MD, Dicker, AP, Showalter, TN & Den, RB 2015, 'Is robotic arm stereotactic body radiation therapy 'virtual high-dose rate brachytherapy' effective for prostate cancer? An analysis of comparative effectiveness using published data' Expert Review of Medical Devices, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 317-327.
Meng, MB, Zaorsky, N, Deng, L, Wang, HH, Chao, J, Zhao, LJ, Yuan, ZY & Ping, W 2015, 'Pericytes: A double-edged sword in cancer therapy', Future Oncology, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 169-179.
Zhang, I, Zaorsky, N, Palmer, JD, Mehra, R & Lu, B 2015, 'Targeting brain metastases in ALK-rearranged non-small-cell lung cancer', The Lancet Oncology, vol. 16, no. 13, pp. e510-e521.
Meng, MB, Wang, HH, Guo, WH, Wu, ZQ, Zeng, XL, Zaorsky, N, Shi, HS, Qian, D, Niu, ZM, Jiang, B, Zhao, LJ, Yuan, ZY & Wang, P 2015, 'Targeting pyruvate kinase M2 contributes to radiosensitivity of non-small cell lung cancer cells in vitro and in vivo', Cancer Letters, vol. 356, no. 2, pp. 985-993.

Clinical Trials Search

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