Winthrop's Institute for Cancer Care Provides the "One-Two" Punch Needed to Battle Cancer

Vol. 14, No. 1
Winter 2004

  • $265,000 Grant to Help Winthrop Further Minority Health Outreach Efforts

  • One Million Dollar Gift to Help Build Highly Advanced, Expanded Interventional Cardiology Pavilion at Winthrop

  • Giving New Meaning to the Phrase 'Beating the Odds'

  • Winthrop's Pediatric Craniofacial Team... Reshaping Children's Lives Through Cutting-Edge Surgery

  • Winthrop's Institute for Cancer Care Provides the "One-Two" Punch Needed to Battle Cancer

  • Five Cents Goes Along Way in Helping Kids with Cancer

  • Winthrop Provides A Light at the End of the Tunnel for Families, Patients with Rare Genetic Disorder Known as Prader-Willi Syndrome

  • Christopher Dowd's Story

  • $400,000 Pledge from Jay's World Childhood Cancer Foundation Goes Toward Construction of Pediatric Oncology Rooms in New Inpatient Center

  • Celebrating New Life... Celebrating the Miracle of Love

  • When Prostate Cancer Strikes, Cryoablation is a Viable Treatment Option

  • Winthrop Acquires Most Advanced CT Scanner for Fastest, Most Accurate Imaging of the Human Body

  • Pat Lyons Foundation Donates $30,000 to Winthrop's Cancer Center for Kids Funds Raised at First Annual Golf Tournament in Memory of 9-11 Firefighter

  • Islanders Visit

  • "The future ain't what it used to be,"

  • $265,000 Grant to Help Winthrop Further Minority Health Outreach Efforts

    Back to Publications

  • Ellen Kiernan is back to doing what she loves most - teaching dance lessons and dancing with her husband, Bill.
    Treatment for many types of cancer has come a long way. From surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to new and exciting breakthroughs including targeted therapy and radioimmunotherapy, cancer patients have more choices than ever before when it comes to finding the treatment option right for them. At Winthrop-University Hospital's Institute for Cancer Care, a whole new class of agents to fight a number of different types of cancer are improving the lives and outcomes of a large number of individuals.

    "This is an exciting time in the treatment of cancer, with new classes of medications emerging to fight the disease," explained Harry Staszewski, MD, Director of Oncology/Hematology at Winthrop. "Here at Winthrop, we not only have access to the new medications but the experience and resources to use them to successfully treat our patients."

    "We hope to one day put ourselves 'out of business' by finding a cure for all patients with cancer."
    Harry Staszewski, MD
    One of the most exciting new modalities of treatment for cancer is radioimmunotherapy, which combines a source of radiation with a monoclonal antibody - a component of the body's immune system - to attack the cancer site. The use of the new FDA approved therapy Zevalin, a radioimmunotherapy treatment, has created a whole new way of managing cancer, specifically Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL). Winthrop is one of only a few cancer centers on Long Island that has been treating patients with this new agent.

    Treatment with the Zevalin therapy usually takes about one week, beginning with Rituxan, delivered intravenously. Rituxan, the monoclonal antibody component of the regimen, goes straight to the tumor cells. The drug uses the body's own immune system to help kill the cancer cells involved in NHL while leaving normal, healthy cells alone. After receiving Rituxan, the patient then enters Winthrop's Nuclear Medicine Department where the radioimmunotherapy source is delivered (intravenously), targeting and destroying the cancer cells.

    Leslie Matthews, RN, talks to patient Ellen Kiernan, who says she feels great after treatment.
    "Zevalin combines the antibody with a radioactive isotope, enabling the radiation dose to be delivered exactly where it is needed - at the site of the cancer," explained Dr. Staszewski. "Because it is a targeted therapy, healthy cells are spared and side effects are minimal."

    He refers to this as a "one-two punch," increasing the effectiveness of the therapy without increasing the risk of adverse side effects. Winthrop's Institute for Cancer Care was one of the first centers in the region to use Zevalin in clinical trials.

    Cutting-Edge Treatment Options Close to Home

    Ellen Kiernan was the first patient at Winthrop to undergo treatment with Zevalin after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2001. A nurse, a dance instructor and a grandmother - Ms. Kiernan had too much to live for to let cancer slow her down. A healthcare professional herself, she had done a great deal of research about new treatment options, discussing Zevalin with her oncologist as a good option.

    "I worked closely with my oncology team at Winthrop in making the healthcare decisions that were right for me," explained Ms. Kiernan. "The nurses and physicians helped me deal with my fears and anxiety and supported me through the entire process."

    "Being treated at Winthrop was a great experience," she added, "not only because of the tremendous support I received but also because I was close to home. I didn't have to travel into New York City for this cutting-edge treatment."

    Because Zevalin requires close cooperation between oncologists and nuclear medicine specialists, patients benefit from Winthrop's multidisciplinary and compassionate approach to patient care, with access to the comprehensive medical services offered through the Hospital's specialized Institutes for Care.

    One year following her treatment, Ms. Kiernan is symptom free and feeling great. She has the energy to play with her grandchild and to inspire her students in dance class.

    "It is so important to enjoy today and not let worry take away what you have," she mused.

    "Until the day we find a cure for all cancers, our goal is to turn cancer into a manageable disease, not an acute one," stated Dr. Staszewski. "We hope to one day put ourselves 'out of business' by finding a cure for all patients with cancer."

    To learn more about new treatment options and clinical trials in the Institute for Cancer Care, call 1-866-WINTHROP.

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