Corey J. Langer, M.D., is director of thoracic oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia, which utilizes the most up-to-date technology and some of the world’s most cutting-edge therapies for its patients.
He wants everyone else to share in those advances, too.
Big-city cancer centers, such as my own, are a bit inconvenient. We often lack the intimacies, the familiarity and the personal touch of the communities. But we do have advanced science. And it’s imperative to export our science and research to the trenches if we ever, ever hope to make progress in combating this challenging constellation of diseases.
Langer has clinical expertise in many thoracic malignancies, including lung cancers and mesothelioma, which is caused by an exposure to asbestos. He also worked with head, neck and thyroid cancers. Medical advances made at Penn make more determined to ensure the best possible care for everyone who comes to the hospital.
“Our goal is to bring advanced science to the local level. More than 80 percent of cancer care in the United States occurs in communities,” he said. “Our goal is to export those advances so that patients outside the main campus can benefit without leaving home. There is no reason why progress in molecular medicine should be confined to academic centers.”
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Langer’s own research history detailed salvage therapy, the name given to alternative treatments used after standard treatments fail to show success. It also looked at areas of concurrent chemotherapy and radiation regimens. The common thread tying the three areas together is treatment care for the elderly and other patients with limited functionality.
In fact, earlier in his career, Langer participated in the Canadian JBR. 10 study, a pioneering look at adjuvant treatment for the elderly. His research expertise is multi-modality therapy of locally-advanced, non-small-cell lung cancer.
Langer is chairman of the Medical Oncology Committee of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, a national collection of experts who want more investigations of radiation therapy.
Fast Fact: Langer is heavily involved with researching oncology options for elderly patients with reduced systemic function.
He received his medical degree from Boston University and was board certified in internal medicine in 1984 and in medical oncology in 1987. He previously worked at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia before joining the Abramson Cancer Center.
While he touts the positives that accompany sharing with the community facilities, Langer also knows that there is no better place for a cancer patient to be than at Abramson.
“We see a unique mixture of patients. And the first place you go as a patient is crucial. The therapeutic decisions that are made at that point often determine the ultimate course of the disease,” he said. “We are benefited here (at Abramson) by a unique collaboration between the various disciplines. And one of the most exciting aspects of care is the emergence customized therapy that we can offer.”
Langer has a range of experience treating cancer patients, a philosophy that fit perfectly with a culture that already was apparent when he arrived.
“I believe in a strong therapeutic alliance with our patients. It should be open and clear and honest,” he said. “It’s the best way to encourage trust with our patients. They need to know they can ask questions at every point along their therapeutic journey.”
Langer has contributed three articles to modern mesothelioma literature; two discussed the combination of pemetrexed and gemcitabine and the other explored the restrictive limits for non-small cell lung cancer patients who are looking to access treatment.
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