In 1974, Pennsylvania, welcomed the opening of Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation’s premier facilities for cancer research and treatment. This independent, nonprofit institution was formed from the merging of two of the nation’s oldest cancer treatment hospitals, American Oncologic Hospital, founded in 1904, and the world-renowned Institute for Cancer Research.
Fox Chase’s commitment to cancer research continues the mission of American Oncological Hospital, one of the first hospitals in the country to specialize in cancer care and place research at the forefront. Fox Chase has also maintained the pioneering spirit of the Institute for Cancer Research, which in 1953 installed the country’s first cobalt radiation therapy machine for the treatment of cancer.
Today, Fox Chase remains the region’s only hospital entirely focused on the treatment, research and prevention of all cancer types. The center is recognized nationwide as a leader in medical, radiation and surgical cancer care.
One of Fox Chase’s strengths is its emphasis on lung cancer and mesothelioma. To battle these aggressive diseases, the cancer center houses a team of multidisciplinary experts, including Prashant C. Shah, M.D., a thoracic surgeon with a clinical focus on the surgical management of mesothelioma and expertise in treating chest diseases; Gregory Michael Lubiniecki, M.D., a medical oncologist specializing in patients with lung cancer and mesothelioma, with research interests in novel therapies for these cancers; and Joseph Treat, M.D., a medical oncologist who sees only patients with mesothelioma or lung cancer diagnoses.
In addition to the physicians who diagnose, treat and care for patients with these cancers, Fox Chase takes special pride in its research of mesothelioma, headed by Joseph Testa, Ph.D., a renowned researcher exploring the genetic roots of the rare disease and methods for early detection and treatment. The Testa laboratory was the first to develop a “mouse model” that mirrors many of the molecular features of mesothelioma in humans. This model helps provide a better understanding of tumor formation and is used to test new therapies for treating the cancer.
Patients with lung cancer and mesothelioma may undergo a host of treatment options, including surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. For early stage mesothelioma patients, Fox Chase takes an individualized surgical approach tailored to the patient’s overall health and other important factors. Surgery often is followed by radiation, then chemotherapy. The center offers chemotherapy to late-stage mesothelioma patients to boost survival rates.
Fox Chase patients receive personalized care from a full team of cancer specialists. The team regularly discusses each patient’s case and develops custom treatment plans, which sometimes incorporate advanced or experimental techniques. Treatment plans may include:
Fox Chase also has pioneered several advanced techniques that have changed the face of cancer treatment. In 2001, it became the first cancer center in the world to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to help create more precise radiation treatment plans with less severe side effects. Over the past decade, the department of radiation oncology at Fox Chase has developed several state-of-the-art technologies for cancer treatment, including Calypso beacons, CT on Rails and BAT Ultrasound Guided Targeting.
This 100-bed hospital is home to national and international experts in cancer research. Research programs at Fox Chase span multiple disciplines, including cancer biology, cancer prevention and control, blood cell development and function, molecular therapeutics and molecular epigenetics.
Fox Chase joined the Temple University Health System in 2012, adding 50 researchers from Temple University School of Medicine to the center’s esteemed research efforts. The center also collaborates with seven partner institutions throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which Fox Chase selected for their outstanding commitment to cancer care and research. With more high-quality hospitals nearby, patients in the Northeast gain wider access to clinical trials, including phase II and III drug studies.
Fox Chase’s community-based partners include:
In addition, Fox Chase shares its expertise and resources with the American Russian Cancer Alliance, a unique partnership between the U.S. and Russia that pools resources to advance cancer research. The program’s latest initiatives include research on molecular imaging techniques and tobacco use.
At any given time there are more than 200 clinical trials underway at Fox Chase, including studies on cancer prevention, new treatments and cutting-edge diagnostic techniques. Researchers at the cancer center are conducting multiple trials to benefit patients with mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Several of these trials are now recruiting mesothelioma patients, or will begin recruiting soon. These include:
This phase II trial aims to determine the safety and efficacy of LEE011, an experimental drug that targets genes researchers suspect drive the growth of cancer. Participants must have previously received a treatment they did not respond to and must have tumors with one of five specific genetic mutations: CDK4 amplification or mutation, CDK6 amplification or mutation, Cyclin D1 amplification, Cyclin D3 amplification or p16 mutation.
This randomized phase II trial will study how well pemetrexed disodium or observation works in treating pleural mesothelioma patients whose cancer did not progress after first-line chemotherapy. Some patients in the study will receive treatment with pemetrexed, while others will undergo observation until the cancer starts to progress. The primary goal of the study is to determine if maintenance therapy with pemetrexed improves progression-free survival.
Groundbreaking research on mesothelioma and lung cancer is not new to Fox Chase. Past studies at the center to improve the standard of care for these cancers include:
Disclaimer: Fox Chase Cancer Center has no professional affiliation with Asbestos.com.
Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers.
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