By Pat Ciarrocchi

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new clinical trial on breast cancer treatment is showing early, encouraging results at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

The study is looking at the role of diet and how it affects women with early stage breast cancer as they undergo radiation treatment.

Dr. Nicole Simone, a radiation oncologist who is leading the study, says they’ve found breast cancer patients who restrict their caloric intake during radiation, feel better, seem to have less skin irritation and are losing 10 to 20 pounds for the study period of six weeks.

“Work in my laboratory at Thomas Jefferson University has demonstrated that we can improve existing therapies by modifying diet,” said Dr. Simone. ”We determine a woman’s baseline diet and then determine how to personalize a diet by making substitutions to her typical diet. The women are provided with dietary counseling and monitoring during the course of their six weeks of radiation.”

Dr. Simone says her goal is to improve treatment and cure rates.

“In 2011, 85,000 breast cancers were attributed to obesity,” said Dr. Simone. “That’s why it’s important to study the role that obesity plays in incidents and treatment of breast cancer.”

Jefferson is accepting more early stage breast cancer patients into this clinical trial. For more information, visit the Jefferson website.