Caring for Mesothelioma Patients at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
For cancer patients in Upstate New York, Buffalo’s Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center may be the ideal choice for treatment. After all, this institution, established in 1898, was the nation’s first cancer research, treatment and education center. As the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, this hospital maintains the highest standards of excellence in patient care, education, basic science, clinical research and cancer prevention.
Roswell Park was founded on a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to treatment and patient care, which is the standard for all modern-day comprehensive cancer centers. This certainly applies to lung cancer and associated diseases, as evidenced by the hospital’s Thoracic Program, a team of experts from Roswell Park providing comprehensive care for all types and stages of lung cancer. The program sees more than 400 inpatient admissions and 7,000 outpatient visits per year, with almost 600 new patients annually.
Among the multidisciplinary team’s lung cancer experts are Dr. Todd Demmy, clinical chair of the Department of Thoracic Surgery, with expertise in mesothelioma, lung and esophageal cancers – and research interests that include advanced minimally invasive thoracic surgical procedures, management of malignant pleural effusions and quality of life after thoracic surgery; and thoracic oncologist Dr. Sai Yendamuri, with expertise in mesothelioma and cancers of the esophagus and lungs.
Surgical oncologist Dr. John Kane III handles cases of peritoneal mesothelioma, which starts in the abdominal cavity. Kane often uses the combination of cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion, otherwise known as HIPEC, to treat mesothelioma and other surface malignancies. HIPEC involves circulating a high-dose chemotherapy solution throughout the abdomen for 90 minutes following the resection of all visible tumor cells. The solution is designed to kill microscopic tumor cells the surgeon may have missed.
Roswell Park Uses Effective Early Screening Methods
With such a deadly disease, the best lung cancer treatment may be that of early detection, and that means that effective screening methods are crucial. The team’s tests include CT scans; bronchoscopy exams, which detect lung lesions or cancers; chest x-rays; and sputum samples. And as conventional therapies are typically ineffective for lung cancer, treatments may depend on specific disease types and stages.
The leading procedures include:
- Surgery to remove cancerous parts of the lung (resection/segmentectomy); lung lobes (lobectomy/sleeve lobectomy, the most common procedure); or entire lungs (pneumonectomy)
- Chemotherapy – utilized for lung, thyroid, ovarian, gynecological, gastrointestinal, breast and prostate cancers
- Radiation therapy – patients usually receive external radiation, the most common for lung cancer
- Targeted therapy – these procedures, often given to non-small cell lung cancer patients, involve drugs or intravenous treatments that block cancer growth and spreading
- Combination treatments may be utilized, and examples include: radiation and chemotherapy for limited stage small cell lung cancer patients; or surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or combinations for non-small cell lung cancer
- Advanced treatments – lung cancer patients may undergo Photofrin® (porfimer sodium), a non-toxic, intravenous drug that enters the bloodstream and is then zapped with lasers that kill tumors. This procedure may be given for such conditions as mesothelioma and lung or esophageal tumors.
Roswell Park Cancer Center a Leader in Immunotherapy Treatment
The hospital’s dedication to cancer research has yielded grants and contracts totaling more than $104 million. Roswell Park has sponsored or collaborated on more than 400 funded clinical trials.
Besides being one of the first American hospitals to conduct phase I cancer research studies, Roswell Park housed the nation’s first chemotherapy program. Additional achievements include those for surgical robotics, vitamin D research, immunotherapy and vaccine therapy and contributions to the Human Genome Project.
The Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center currently spans 29 acres of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Center, consisting of 12 major buildings, including a facility dedicated to comprehensive diagnostic and treatments. This 133-bed hospital shares an academic affiliation with State University of New York at Buffalo. In 2010 alone, Roswell Park and its 12 multidisciplinary locations admitted almost 5,000 patients and treated about 200,000. The center’s community of facilities employs 3,305 staff and faculty members, all of whom regularly participate in the hospital’s ongoing research programs.
Mesothelioma Clinical Trials at Roswell Park Cancer Center
- A phase I clinical trial studying the use of light dosimetry during photodynamic therapy in treating surgical patients with mesothelioma or non-small cell lung cancer.
- A phase II clinical trial studying the immunotherapy combination of nivolumab (Opdivo) and ipilimumab (Yervoy) for patients with rare tumors, such as mesothelioma.