As the division chief of hematology & medical oncology at Maimonides, Becker plays a key role at the only full-service cancer center in Brooklyn, allowing patients within the borough to find excellent care close to home.
Becker is part of a team of specialists who are changing the way malignancies, such as lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma, are treated with the latest advances in immunotherapy and targeted therapies.
As part of the personalized care at Maimonides, immunotherapy drugs that target the genetic mutations allowing the cancer to thrive are, at times, replacing chemotherapy.
“Immunotherapy helps a patient’s own immune system fight the cancer, and we’ve found that the immune system can be more powerful than chemotherapy,” Becker said. “Immunotherapy is being used now in an ever-enlarging number of patients with cancers.”
At the 2019 National Institute of Health Summer Research Program Poster Day, Dr. Becker precepted a presentation on the effects of multiple viral infections on the gut microbiome.
Multidisciplinary Treatment in Brooklyn
Immunotherapy is part of multidisciplinary care at the Brooklyn Mesothelioma Program. It may also include a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Becker also helps treat patients with prostate, bladder, kidney and testicular cancer. He treats sarcomas and genitourinary tumors.
He came to Maimonides after completing his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in hematology and oncology, at Columbia University Medical Center.
Becker received his medical degree from the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons.
Lung Cancer Survival
Becker plays a major role in the lung cancer program at Maimonides, which has been designated a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance.
Maimonides offers and encourages the low-dose CT scans that have been effective in detecting early-stage lung cancer.
“Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer for both men and women in the U.S.,” Becker said. “But we can improve everyone’s odds for survival with our interdisciplinary team approach to treating it.”
Early screening is just one reason for improved survival rates with lung cancer at many specialty centers. Immunotherapy is another.
Chemotherapy can shrink tumors but often it lacks the longevity that targeted immunotherapy can provide.
Instead of three to four months of effectiveness, it can be three to four years or more.
“Now everyone treating lung cancer, like myself, has a large and growing number of patients who were diagnosed five years ago and are living with the disease,” he said. “More and more, we’re learning how to select which patients best respond to immunotherapy. It’s a broad range of cancers.”