MORE THAN ONE-THIRD OF Americans, some 120 million people, will be diagnosed with cancer sometime during their lives. It is among the most-feared of human diseases, but new medical advances are offering patients more treatment options and hope for the future. New Jersey’s top doctors and hospitals are fighting cancer with state-of-the-art technology, new medicines and evidence-based treatment protocols.
Atlantic Health System, Morristown Medical Center
By Missak Haigentz Jr., M.D., Section Chief, Hematology and Oncology; Medical Director, Hematology and Oncology, Atlantic Medical Group
The Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center has a volume of 3,500+ analytic cancer cases yearly and a robust clinical research network infrastructure, providing an excellent environment to shape the future of cancer care regionally and beyond. Following a highly productive academic career, I was specifically recruited to help create and lead a novel, academically-oriented and subspecialty-based clinical and research practice in the community setting. On the premise that the best cancer care is provided by physicians with clinical expertise in specific tumor types, our team, in less than two years, has more than doubled the availability of innovative trials to patients, approaching 100 active trials. We recently announced our unique partnership with TGen, the Translational Genomics Research Institute—an affiliate of City of Hope—which has already resulted in an early phase trials portfolio of the highest scientific value, including a Stand Up to Cancer study. We have a growing precision medicine, immuno-therapy and cellular therapy program, with an eagerly anticipated investigational CAR-T based therapy, positioning our Center at the forefront of cancer research in our community, which we feel privileged to serve.
Atlantic Health System, Overlook Medical Center
By Dennis Lowenthal, M.D., Chief, Hematology and Oncology; Medical Director, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center
The tremendous growth and success of the oncology program at Overlook Medical Center is due to nursing excellence, outstanding support services, evidence-based multidisciplinary tumor boards in every field of oncology and a robust clinical research program across all tumor types. Our Gerald J. Glasser Brain Tumor Center uniquely provides a one-stop treatment center bringing together a multidisciplinary group of experts, specializing in neurosurgery, neuro-oncology, neuroradiology, neuropathology and radiation oncology with the largest, most experienced CyberKnife program in the Tri-State Area for the treatment of brain tumors. Overlook performs more brain tumor surgeries than any other hospital in New Jersey, with The Center’s endowment making possible many unique supportive services. Our Breast Program at Overlook Medical Center offers a true multidisciplinary experience where, at the initial consultation, patients and family members meet with the entire team consisting of a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist and medical oncologist, providing convenience, efficiency and coordinated care planning, which allows patients to focus on the totality of their treatment. Our Breast Cancer Prevention Program offers unaffected women who are concerned about their breast cancer risk to meet with our genetic counselor, nutritionist and medical oncologist in a single visit to define a strategy to lower it.
CarePoint Health, Bayonne Medical Center
By Devrajan Iyengar, M.D., Oncologist, Cancer Committee Chair, Cancer Liaison Physician
CarePoint Health combines the comprehensive resources of three area hospitals: Bayonne Medical Center, Christ Hospital in Jersey City, and Hoboken University Medical Center. Bayonne Medical Center and Christ Hospital are both accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, demonstrating CarePoint’s high-quality, multidisciplinary, patient-centered cancer care to Hudson County. Our cancer patients receive the expertise of a weekly system-wide tumor board conference using national guidelines. This team approach to care provides our patients multidisciplinary consultation across the system. Physicians ensure that patients and their families are intimately involved in making treatment choices. Comprehensive cancer care also involves pathologists utilizing our state-of-the-art reference labs to obtain timely molecular testing for targeted therapies. Hudson County cancer patients can rely on CarePoint for access to innovative procedures such as EBUS (endoscopic guided biopsy) and Endoscopic Ultrasound for targeted lesions. Radiation therapy procedures include Stereotactic, IMRT and radio embolization (Y90). Radioembolization is a minimally invasive procedure that combines embolization and radiation therapy to treat liver cancer. At CarePoint, we also provide numerous screenings to the community through our mobile medical van and our four Neighborhood Health Centers.
By Steven T. Brower, M.D., Medical Director, The Lefcourt Family Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center, Chief of Surgical Oncology and Hepatobiliary Surgery
Englewood Health is the first in New Jersey, and one of the first in the nation, to offer lung stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) with Varian Calypso Anchored Beacon transponders for lung. Delivering high doses to small, targeted areas is especially challenging in the lung, because the target moves as the patient breathes. To improve upon existing methods, we have to know exactly where the target is. The Calypso system acts as a GPS; it’s the only device on the market that delivers real-time, 3D tumor position information 25 times per second, restricting the prescribed dose to the targeted tumor and sparing healthy tissue. Using transponders—each the size of a grain of rice—inserted into and around the lung tumor, the Calypso system tracks the exact location of the tumor with sub-millimeter precision during treatment. If tumor position moves from the planned location, the treatment beam automatically turns off within 100 milliseconds—much faster than our eyes could detect that the patient had any movement. We’re also committed to low-dose CT lung cancer screening, which saves lives. Since 2014, we have screened 900 patients, diagnosing 10 cancers in patients who were asymptomatic.
Hackensack Meridian Health, Jersey Shore University Medical Center
By Thomas Bauer, M.D., Clinical Medical Director, Oncology Services, Hackensack Meridian Health; Medical Director, Thoracic Oncology, Hackensack Meridian Health, Monmouth and Ocean Counties; Chief, Thoracic Surgery, Jersey Shore University Medical Center
Jersey Shore University Medical Center is home to a new cancer center at HOPE Tower, part of a $265 million, state-of-the-art building that has two floors dedicated to oncology services. HOPE Tower represents a new Healing OutPatient Experience and is guided by a patient-centered approach to care and innovation. Our comprehensive cancer care program includes world-class surgical, medical and radiation oncology expertise, diagnostic imaging and laboratory, access to clinical trials, and supportive programs and resources. This includes dedicated oncology nurse navigators, genetic counseling, social workers, dietitians, palliative care, integrative medicine, and support groups. At HOPE Tower, we treat the whole person as well as the disease, offering patients cancer diagnosis, consultation and comprehensive treatment all under one roof. This allows for multidisciplinary collaboration to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients. Its welcoming design offers patients the latest in technology and treatment options. The center features the most advanced radiation therapies to treat cancerous tumors, including a TrueBeam™ linear accelerator and the only Edge® radio-surgery machine in New Jersey. Specialized areas have also been created for the unique needs of women’s cancer services, as well as a new cardio-oncology program.
Hackensack Meridian Health, Hackensack University Medical Center, John Theurer Cancer Center
By David Siegel, M.D., Ph.D., Chief, Multiple Myeloma Division, Founding Director of the Institute for Multiple Myeloma at the Center for Discovery & Innovation
New therapies have resulted in significant improvement in the clinical outcomes of multiple myeloma (MM) patients. John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center has built one of the most active clinical MM programs in the world, exploring every legitimate therapeutic option available and becoming one of the conduits of therapy development in myeloma. We have also leveraged our shared vision, talents and accumulated knowledge and expertise into a comprehensive institute—an integrated clinical, laboratory and population science- based research center—that will exponentially expand our fight against MM. The new Institute for Multiple Myeloma at Hackensack Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery & Innovation (a 250,000- square-foot research facility located on the former Hoffmann-LaRoche campus in Nutley and Clifton, New Jersey) supports groundbreaking research to enhance treatment of this rare cancer by integrating new technologies with evolving insights into the biology of the disease. The Institute for Multiple Myeloma represents a true “clinical laboratory” for MM, including real-world, research-grade data over time, and access to clinical material over the continuum of care. We seek to transform the treatment of patients with MM by integrating our extensive clinical expertise and research contributions with ongoing basic and translational research.
Holy Name Medical Center, The Patricia Lynch Cancer Center
By Elan Diamond, M.D., Director of Oncologic Research and Genomic Medicine
Our team provides state-of-the-art cancer care through a collaboration of highly trained and innovative medical, surgical and radiation oncologists. We also provide comprehensive support services and access to cutting-edge clinical research. New cancer therapeutics are significantly improving and extending the lives of our patients. One of the most exciting new classes of cancer therapy is immunotherapy: medications and therapeutics that enhance patients’ own immune systems’ ability to fight and control their cancer. As a cancer grows, it acquires the ability to shut down the immune system by providing certain signals that inactivate immune cells. Immunotherapy blocks these signals and allows the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Although current immunotherapy drugs are changing the way we deliver cancer care, ongoing trials seek to improve and expand the use of these drugs. We are exploring the use of combination immunotherapy regimens in patients with stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer to investigate whether they prolong patients’ lives with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy. In clinical trials for patients with stage II and III breast cancer, our research team is assessing the use of immuno-therapy given prior to surgery to increase the chances of cure.
Jefferson Health, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center
By Ana María López, M.D., MPH, Vice Chair of Medical Oncology, Chief of Cancer Services
The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (Washington Township, New Jersey), is a state-of-the-art healing center focused on caring for the patient and family throughout their cancer experience—across the spectrum of care, from prevention to treatment to survivorship to palliation. Knowing each patient experience is unique, we see it as our mission to provide tailored treatment through coordinated team-based treatment that includes clinical trials, symptom management, integrative medicine and innovations in healthcare delivery, including telehealth to support care beyond the hospital and office walls. The treatment of cancer is rapidly evolving and yet, not quickly enough for the patient in need. Treatments that “turn on” the immune system, target cancer cells better and improve outcomes are great advances. Approaches that emphasize prevention and early detection may save patients from the pain of illness altogether—our ultimate goal. Advancing these efforts improves health outcomes, quality of life, and may help identify and modify risk, not only for the patient but for the next generation. Working with our communities, we look forward to implementing evidence-based approaches that emphasize prevention and well-being.
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
By Andrew M. Evens, D.O., MSc, FACP, Associate Director for Clinical Services; Director of the Lymphoma Program; Medical Director, Oncology Service Line, RWJBarnabas Health
As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in collaboration with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, are offering CAR-T cell therapy. It is one of the first programs in the state to offer this treatment for leukemia and lymphoma. CAR-T cell therapy, in which one’s lymphocytes are collected and re-engineered to attack a target on malignant lymphocytes, is offering hope and possibly cure for some patients. Approximately half of patients with resistant diffuse large B-cell lymphoma who were treated with CAR-T cells were shown to have a complete response and remain in remission for more than a year (New England Journal of Medicine, American Society of Hematology, December 2017). Having one of the most comprehensive hematologic malignancies programs in the state, which includes stem cell transplantation, it is imperative to offer CAR-T cell therapy as well as other unique and novel immunotherapy to this particular patient population, as it is not widely available elsewhere.
By Steven K. Libutti, M.D., FACS, SVP of Oncology Services; Director, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
We can make a greater impact on saving lives if we focus more on identifying cancer at an earlier stage or preventing it altogether with an emphasis on screening, early detection and education. Spiral CT scans for lung cancer, Pap smears for cervical cancer, mammograms for breast cancer, PSA blood tests and digital rectal exams for prostate cancer, colonoscopy for colon and rectal cancers, and regular dental exams to detect oral cancer are all preventative screening tests that one should discuss with their doctor. Risk factors such as age, lifestyle, overall health history, family history of cancer, and use of tobacco products should be taken into consideration when discussing a screening regimen, as certain factors may indicate a need for increased frequency. To help reduce colorectal and lung cancer incidence and mortality, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, in partnership with the state, established the ScreenNJ initiative. This cancer screening, education and awareness program is a collaborative project of organizations across New Jersey, including the RWJBarnabas Health facilities. If cancer is detected, a physician through one of these programs can recommend treatment based on staging and other factors, such as the molecular make-up of the cancer.
Saint Peter’s University Hospital
By Robert Fein, M.D., Medical Oncologist, Section Chief, Hematology-Oncology, and Chair, Cancer Committee
Saint Peter’s University Hospital has been at the forefront of advanced cancer care for decades. Saint Peter’s debuted one of the first comprehensive breast cancer centers in New Jersey where patients are evaluated and treated by a multidisciplinary team of breast surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, geneticists and pathologists. Saint Peter’s breast care team utilizes precision and genetic modalities to guide and personalize appropriate treatment planning for the individual patient. Saint Peter’s Radiation Oncology Department has one of the few CyberKnife® facilities in New Jersey. CyberKnife robotic stereotactic radiosurgery delivers pinpoint accurate radiation to minimize potential side effects and toxicities. Less invasive and generally requiring a shorter duration of treatment—as few as five sessions—CyberKnife is a nonsurgical way to treat both cancerous and noncancerous tumors anywhere in the body, including the brain, liver, kidney, neck, spine, lung, pancreas and prostate. Saint Peter’s Cancer Center is a new outpatient facility with state-of-the-art equipment and includes a comprehensive outpatient chemotherapy and infusion center. Specially trained nurses, in conjunction with experienced medical oncologists, utilize many of the newer chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs that have dramatically improved patient outcomes while allowing far fewer side effects and complications.
Trinitas Comprehensive Cancer Center
By Barry Levinson, M.D. Medical Director
With the opening last month of the Connie Dwyer Breast Center at Trinitas Regional Medical Center, we have in place a wonderful resource for all women to receive the most advanced breast cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment. Among the Center’s many features are 3-D Tomosynthesis mammography, stereotactic and ultrasound-guided biopsy, and an extremely skilled, bilingual staff including a breast navigator and breast surgeon. Also, Trinitas is participating in a potentially ground-breaking study that looks at the impact of weight loss on breast cancer recurrence. The Breast Cancer Weight Loss (BWEL) study is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology. The study admits overweight and obese women who are diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer to test if weight loss can help prevent their disease from returning. The BWEL Study presents a unique way of looking at the relationship between weight and cancer, as there have been no studies examining the effect of weight loss and the risk of breast cancer recurrence. If you have been diagnosed with stage two or three breast cancer within the last 12 months or have completed surgery and chemotherapy (if applicable) and are interested in participating in the Trinitas Weight Loss Study, please contact us at (908) 994 8728.
Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care
By Ephraim Casper, M.D., Chief Medical Officer
What’s new in cancer care are dramatic advances in immunotherapy, the refinement of precision therapy and new diagnostic tests and radiation therapy approaches. At Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care, we individualize treatment and are passionate about providing unsurpassed cancer care. For example, emerging data show that immunotherapy plus chemotherapy is highly effective in triple negative breast cancer. We have participated in pioneering clinical trials exploring this approach. We have incorporated new oral medications to potentiate the effects of endocrine therapy for selected patients with hormonally sensitive breast cancer. Our multidisciplinary breast cancer team uses advanced techniques such as oncoplastic surgery and intraoperative radiation therapy, which delivers an entire course of radiation in the operating room eliminating, for some patients, the need for weeks of radiation. Our multidisciplinary Urologic Oncology Center serves patients with prostate, kidney and bladder cancers. The team uses fusion guided biopsy, a technology combining MRI with ultrasound to pinpoint prostate cancers and assess the aggressiveness of tumors. For many patients with a prostate cancer diagnosis, Valley’s radiation oncology team can deliver a complete course of radiation therapy in five short treatments, as opposed to a traditional nine-week course of treatment.