Aleksandra Kuczmarska-Haas, Post Grad Trainee

Aleksandra Kuczmarska-Haas, MD

Radiation Oncology Resident

Department of Human Oncology


Intern, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Internal Medicine (2017)

MD, The Commonwealth Medical College, (2016)

AB, Harvard College, Psychology-Social and Cognitive Neuroscience (2010)

Selected Honors and Awards

American Brachytherapy Society Resident Travel Grant Award (2019)

John Peterson Education Award (2018)

Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) (2013)

Medical Student Summer Research Scholarship of the American Academy of Neurology (not accepted) (2013)

Learning Environment Commendation Award (2014)

Edward O. Reischauer Grant Recipient Awarded (2008)

Boards, Advisory Committees and Professional Organizations

American Brachytherapy Society (November 2018- present)

American College for Radiation Oncology (November 2018- present)

Society for Women in Radiation Oncology (September 2018- present)

American Society for Radiation Oncology (July 2017-present)

Radiological Society of North America (July 2017-present)

  • Evaluating dose constraints for radiation induced liver damage following magnetic resonance image guided Stereotactic Body radiotherapy
  • Family Planning, Fertility, and Career Decisions in Female Radiation Oncologists
  • Lactation challenges of resident physicians- results of a national survey
  • A Phase 1 Dose Escalation Study of Neoadjuvant SBRT Plus Elective Nodal Radiation with Concurrent Capecitabine for Resectable Pancreatic Cancer
  • Dramatic Improvement of Antitranscription Intermediary Factor-1-γ/α Antibody-Positive Dermatomyositis After Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy to Presumed Lung Primary: A Case Report
  • Impact of adjuvant fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy dose on local control of brain metastases
  • Cardiac Toxicity in Operable Esophageal Cancer Patients Treated With or Without Chemoradiation
  • Postoperative Delirium and Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction: Overlap and Divergence
  • International Survey on the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicines for Common Toxicities of Radiation Therapy
  • Detection of Delirium in Hospitalized Older General Medicine Patients: A Comparison of the 3D-CAM and CAM-ICU
  • Family Planning, Fertility, and Career Decisions in Female Radiation Oncologists. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys
    Lee A, Kuczmarska-Haas A, Dalwadi SM, Gillespie EF, Ludwig MS, Holliday E, Chino F
    2020 Dec 01; 108 (5): 1400
  • Lactation challenges of resident physicians- results of a national survey. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
    Peters GW, Kuczmarska-Haas A, Holliday EB, Puckett L
    2020 Dec 09; 20 (1): 762
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      BACKGROUND: There are unique challenges to parenting in residency and there is limited data to guide policy regarding lactation facilities and support for female physicians-in-training. We aimed to assess issues surrounding breast-feeding during graduate medical training for current residents or recent graduates from United States (US) residency programs.

      METHODS: A national cross-sectional survey was sent to current and recently graduated (2017 and later) female residents in June 2020. This questionnaire was administered using the Qualtrics Survey tool and was open to each participating woman's organization for 4 weeks. Summary statistics were used to describe characteristics of all respondents and free-text responses were reviewed to identify common themes regarding avenues for improvement.

      RESULTS: Three hundred twelve women responded to the survey, representing a 15.6% response rate. The median duration of providing breastmilk was 9 months (IQR 6-12). 21% of residents reported access to usable lactation rooms within their training hospital, in which 12% reported a computer was present. 60% of lactating residents reported not having a place to store breast milk. 73% reported residency limited their ability to lactate, and 37% stopped prior to their desired goal. 40% reported their faculty and/or co-residents made them feel guilty for their decision to breastfeed, and 56% reported their difficulties with breastfeeding during residency impacted their mental health.

      CONCLUSION: Residents who become mothers during training face significant obstacles to meeting their breastfeeding/pumping needs and goals. With these barriers defined, informed policy change can be instituted to improve the lactation experience for physicians-in-training.

      View details for PubMedID 33297993
  • A Phase I Dose Escalation Study of Neoadjuvant SBRT plus Elective Nodal Radiation with Concurrent Capecitabine for Resectable Pancreatic Cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys
    Witt JS, Kuczmarska-Haas A, Lubner M, Reeder SB, Cho SY, Minter R, Weber S, Ronnekleiv-Kelly S, Abbott D, LoConte N, Mulkerin DL, Lubner SJ, Uboha NV, Deming D, Ritter MA, Mohindra P, Bassetti MF
    2020 Sep 14; :
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      BACKGROUND: and Purpose: The role of neoadjuvant radiation for resectable pancreatic adenocarcinoma is controversial. We performed a prospective dose-escalation study of neoadjuvant stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) with concurrent capecitabine and elective nodal irradiation (ENI) followed by surgical resection to explore the toxicity and feasibility of this approach.

      MATERIALS AND METHODS: Patients with biopsy proven, resectable cancers of the pancreatic head were enrolled. A 4+4 dose-escalation design was employed delivering 5 fractions of 5-7 Gy to primary tumor with concurrent capecitabine. The maximum tolerated dose level was expanded for an additional 4 patients. Patients at all dose levels were treated with ENI delivering 25 Gy in 5 fractions. Dose-limiting toxicity was defined as any grade ≥3 non-hematologic toxicity (CTCAE v4.0) attributable to chemoradiation occurring within 90 days of SBRT.

      RESULTS: A total of 17 patients were enrolled with 16 patients evaluable and 13 patients ultimately proceeding to surgery. The most common toxicity was nausea (56%). There were no DLTs, and SBRT was maximally dose-escalated to 35 Gy in 5 fractions for 8 patients. All patients completing surgery had R0 resections. Seven patients (54%) had moderate treatment effect identified in pathologic specimens. Three patients (23%) developed locoregional recurrences, with two (15%) partially included within the treated volume.

      CONCLUSION: SBRT was safely dose-escalated to 35 Gy in 5 fractions along with concurrent capecitabine and ENI. This regimen will be used in a future expansion cohort.

      View details for PubMedID 32942002
  • Dramatic improvement of anti-transcription intermediary factor-1-γ/α antibody-positive dermatomyositis after stereotactic body radiotherapy to presumed lung primary-a case report. Pract Radiat Oncol
    A KH, Ar B, Js W, Dm F, H A, H S, A M, Jv B
    2020 Jul 01; :
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      Dermatomyositis is a rare autoimmune disorder that can be idiopathic or present as a paraneoplastic syndrome. We report the case of an 83-year-old with anti-TIF-1-antibody-positive dermatomyositis, which led to the identification of a presumed left lower lobe T3 malignancy. Dramatic symptom improvement was noted after stereotactic body radiotherapy to the lesions, after no initial response to prednisone and IVIG. Recurrence of his skin findings at 6 month follow-up coincided with recurrent disease, biopsy proven for small cell lung cancer.

      View details for PubMedID 32621995
  • Impact of adjuvant fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy dose on local control of brain metastases. J Neurooncol
    Musunuru HB, Witt JS, Yadav P, Francis DM, Kuczmarska-Haas A, Labby ZE, Bassetti MF, Howard SP, Baschnagel AM
    2019 Nov; 145 (2): 385-390
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      PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to determine whether a higher biological effective dose (BED) would result in improved local control in patients treated with fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy (FSRT) for their resected brain metastases.

      METHODS: Patients with newly diagnosed brain metastases without previous brain radiotherapy were retrospectively reviewed. Patients underwent surgical resection of at least one brain metastasis and were treated with adjuvant FSRT, delivering 25-36 Gy in 5-6 fractions. Outcomes were computed using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and univariate analysis.

      RESULTS: Fifty-four patients with 63 post-operative cavities were included. Median follow-up was 16 months (3-60). Median metastasis size at diagnosis was 2.9 cm (0.6-8.1) and median planning target volume was 19.7 cm3 (6.3-68.1). Two-year local control (LC) was 83%. When stratified by dose, 2 years LC rate was 95.1% in those treated with 30-36 Gy in 5-6 fractions (BED10 of 48-57.6 Gy10) versus 59.1% lesions treated with 25 Gy in 5 fractions (BED10 of 37.5 Gy10) (p < 0.001). LC was not associated with resection cavity size. One year overall survival was 68.7%, and was independent of BED10. Symptomatic radiation necrosis occurred in 7.9% of patients and was not associated with dose.

      CONCLUSION: In the post-operative setting, high-dose FSRT (BED10 > 37.5 Gy10) were associated with a significantly higher rate of LC compared to lower BED regimens. Overall, 25 Gy in 5 fractions is not an adequate dose to control microscopic disease. If selecting a 5-fraction regimen, 30 Gy in five fractions appears to provide excellent tumor bed control.

      View details for PubMedID 31606876
  • Cardiac Toxicity in Operable Esophageal Cancer Patients Treated With or Without Chemoradiation. Am J Clin Oncol
    Witt JS, Jagodinsky JC, Liu Y, Yadav P, Kuczmarska-Haas A, Yu M, Maloney JD, Ritter MA, Bassetti MF, Baschnagel AM
    2019 08; 42 (8): 662-667
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      PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate predictors of cardiac events in esophageal cancer patients treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (NA CRT) followed by surgery compared with surgery alone.

      MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively identified patients treated for esophageal cancer between 2006 and 2016. A total of 123 patients were identified; 70 were treated with surgery alone, and 53 were treated with NA CRT. Cardiac events were scored based on Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (version 4.03), and dosimetric data was compiled for all patients who received radiation. Univariate analysis and multivariable analysis (MVA) were performed to identify predictors of cardiac events. Competing risk of death regression was performed to a model the cumulative incidence of cardiac events.

      RESULTS: The overall rates of grade ≥3 cardiac events were 24.5% in the NA CRT group versus 10% in the surgery group (P=0.04). On MVA, use of NA CRT (P<0.01, hazard ratio [HR]: 3.45, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.35-9.09) predicted for grade ≥3 cardiac events, though no dosimetric variable predicted for grade ≥3 cardiac events or overall survival. On MVA, NA CRT predicted for pericardial effusions of any grade (P<0.01, HR: 3.70, 95% CI: 1.67-8.33). The V45 Gy was the most significant predictor of pericardial effusions (P=0.012, HR: 1.03, 95% CI: 1.01-1.06) CONCLUSIONS:: NA CRT significantly increased the rate of grade ≥3 cardiac events compared with patients treated with surgery alone. Although no dosimetric parameter predicted for grade ≥3 cardiac events or survival, the V45 Gy predicted for pericardial effusions.

      View details for PubMedID 31313677
  • Postoperative Delirium and Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction: Overlap and Divergence. Anesthesiology
    Daiello LA, Racine AM, Yun Gou R, Marcantonio ER, Xie Z, Kunze LJ, Vlassakov KV, Inouye SK, Jones RN, Alsop D, Travison T, Arnold S, Cooper Z, Dickerson B, Fong T, Metzger E, Pascual-Leone A, Schmitt EM, Shafi M, Cavallari M, Dai W, Dillon ST, McElhaney J, Guttmann C, Hshieh T, Kuchel G, Libermann T, Ngo L, Press D, Saczynski J, Vasunilashorn S, O'Connor M, Kimchi E, Strauss J, Wong B, Belkin M, Ayres D, Callery M, Pomposelli F, Wright J, Schermerhorn M, Abrantes T, Albuquerque A, Bertrand S, Brown A, Callahan A, D'Aquila M, Dowal S, Fox M, Gallagher J, Anna Gersten R, Hodara A, Helfand B, Inloes J, Kettell J, Kuczmarska A, Nee J, Nemeth E, Ochsner L, Palihnich K, Parisi K, Puelle M, Rastegar S, Vella M, Xu G, Bryan M, Guess J, Enghorn D, Gross A, Gou Y, Habtemariam D, Isaza I, Kosar C, Rockett C, Tommet D, Gruen T, Ross M, Tasker K, Gee J, Kolanowski A, Pisani M, de Rooij S, Rogers S, Studenski S, Stern Y, Whittemore A, Gottlieb G, Orav J, Sperling R, SAGES Study Group*
    2019 09; 131 (3): 477-491
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      BACKGROUND: Postoperative delirium and postoperative cognitive dysfunction share risk factors and may co-occur, but their relationship is not well established. The primary goals of this study were to describe the prevalence of postoperative cognitive dysfunction and to investigate its association with in-hospital delirium. The authors hypothesized that delirium would be a significant risk factor for postoperative cognitive dysfunction during follow-up.

      METHODS: This study used data from an observational study of cognitive outcomes after major noncardiac surgery, the Successful Aging after Elective Surgery study. Postoperative delirium was evaluated each hospital day with confusion assessment method-based interviews supplemented by chart reviews. Postoperative cognitive dysfunction was determined using methods adapted from the International Study of Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction. Associations between delirium and postoperative cognitive dysfunction were examined at 1, 2, and 6 months.

      RESULTS: One hundred thirty-four of 560 participants (24%) developed delirium during hospitalization. Slightly fewer than half (47%, 256 of 548) met the International Study of Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction-defined threshold for postoperative cognitive dysfunction at 1 month, but this proportion decreased at 2 months (23%, 123 of 536) and 6 months (16%, 85 of 528). At each follow-up, the level of agreement between delirium and postoperative cognitive dysfunction was poor (kappa less than .08) and correlations were small (r less than .16). The relative risk of postoperative cognitive dysfunction was significantly elevated for patients with a history of postoperative delirium at 1 month (relative risk = 1.34; 95% CI, 1.07-1.67), but not 2 months (relative risk = 1.08; 95% CI, 0.72-1.64), or 6 months (relative risk = 1.21; 95% CI, 0.71-2.09).

      CONCLUSIONS: Delirium significantly increased the risk of postoperative cognitive dysfunction in the first postoperative month; this relationship did not hold in longer-term follow-up. At each evaluation, postoperative cognitive dysfunction was more common among patients without delirium. Postoperative delirium and postoperative cognitive dysfunction may be distinct manifestations of perioperative neurocognitive deficits.

      View details for PubMedID 31166241
  • International Survey on the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicines for Common Toxicities of Radiation Therapy. Adv Radiat Oncol
    Lee A, Kuczmarska-Haas A, Macomber MW, Woo K, Freese C, Morris ZS
    2019 Jan-Mar; 4 (1): 134-141
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      Purpose: Complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) are widely used by patients with cancer. However, little is known about the extent to which these potential remedies are used internationally to treat the most common toxicities of radiation therapy. We report on the results of an international survey that assessed the use of CAMs.

      Methods and Materials: Surveys were distributed to 1174 practicing radiation oncologists. Questions evaluated the perceptions of CAMs and specific practice patterns for the use of CAM remedies in the treatment of common radiation-induced toxicities (eg, skin, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and mucositis/xerostomia). The responses were compared between the groups using the χ2 test and stratified on the basis of provider location, number of years in practice, and perception of CAMs.

      Results: A total of 114 radiation oncologists from 29 different countries completed the survey, with a balanced distribution between North American (n = 56) and non-North American (n = 58) providers. Among the responding clinicians, 63% recommended CAMs in their practice. The proportion of clinicians who recommend CAMs for radiation toxicities did not significantly vary when stratified by provider's number of years in practice (P = .23) or location (United States/Canada vs other; P = .74). Overall, providers reported that 29.4% of their patients use CAMs, and 87.7% reported that their practice encouraged or was neutral on CAM use, whereas 12.3% recommended stopping CAMs. The most common sources of patient information on CAMs were the Internet (75.4%), friends (60.5%), and family (58.8%). Clinicians reported the highest use of CAMs for radiation skin toxicity at 66.7%, followed by 48.2% for fatigue, 40.4% for nausea, and 36.8% for mucositis/xerostomia.

      Conclusions: Nearly two-thirds of the surveyed radiation oncologists recommend CAMs for radiation-related toxicities; however, they estimated that less than one third of patients use CAMs for this purpose. This suggests a need for further investigation and perhaps greater patient education on the roles of CAMs in treating radiation toxicities.

      View details for PubMedID 30706021
  • Detection of Delirium in Hospitalized Older General Medicine Patients: A Comparison of the 3D-CAM and CAM-ICU. J Gen Intern Med
    Kuczmarska A, Ngo LH, Guess J, O'Connor MA, Branford-White L, Palihnich K, Gallagher J, Marcantonio ER
    2016 Mar; 31 (3): 297-303
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      BACKGROUND: Delirium is common in older hospitalized patients and is associated with poor outcomes, yet most cases go undetected. The best approach for systematic delirium identification outside the intensive care unit remains unknown.

      OBJECTIVE: To conduct a comparative effectiveness study of the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU (CAM-ICU) and the newly developed 3-minute diagnostic assessment for delirium using the Confusion Assessment Method (3D-CAM) in general medicine inpatients.

      DESIGN: Cross-sectional comparative effectiveness study.

      SETTING: Two non-intensive care general medicine units at a single academic medical center.

      PARTICIPANTS: Hospitalized general medicine patients aged ≥75 years.

      MEASUREMENTS: Clinicians performed a reference standard assessment for delirium that included patient interviews, family interviews, and review of the medical record. An expert panel determined the presence or absence of delirium using DSM-IV criteria. Two blinded research assistants administered the CAM-ICU and the 3D-CAM in random order, and we determined their diagnostic test characteristics compared to the reference standard.

      RESULTS: Among the 101 participants (mean age 84 ± 5.5 years, 61 % women, 25 % with dementia), 19 % were classified as delirious based on the reference standard. Evaluation times for the 3D-CAM and CAM-ICU were similar. The sensitivity [95 % confidence interval (CI)] of delirium detection for the 3D-CAM was 95 % [74 %, 100 %] and for the CAM-ICU was 53 % [29 %, 76 %], while specificity was >90 % for both instruments. Subgroup analyses showed that the CAM-ICU had sensitivity of 30 % in patients with mild delirium vs. 100 % for the 3D-CAM.

      CONCLUSIONS: In this comparative effectiveness study, we found that the 3D-CAM had substantially higher sensitivity than the CAM-ICU in hospitalized older general medicine patients, and similar administration time. Therefore, the 3D-CAM may be a superior screening tool for delirium in this patient population.

      View details for PubMedID 26443577


Contact Information

Aleksandra Kuczmarska-Haas, MD

600 Highland Avenue,
Madison, WI 53792