HACKENSACK, N.J., Dec. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The John Theurer Cancer Center (JTCC) at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first bone marrow transplant (BMT) performed at the Center by recognizing that heroic patient and his family. The first transplant also served as a foundation for the next 25 years of pioneering discovery and innovation in cancer care.
JTCC will acknowledge this milestone on December 10th at "25 Years of Tomorrows," an event featuring an expert panel exploring future advances in cancer treatment. JTCC clinical leaders Drs. Andrew Pecora and Andre Goy will discuss the unprecedented changes happening in oncology together with Dr. Lee Greenberger (Chief Scientific Officer, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) and Dr. Ronald Gress (Chief of Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch, National Cancer Institute).
Their conversation will be moderated by Pulitzer Prize winning author Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, a practicing oncologist and hematologist at Columbia University, whose bestseller The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer was the inspiration for the PBS special broadcast Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.
"It requires special courage to be part of the leading edge in the treatment of cancer – especially on the part of patients," said Andrew Pecora, MD, FACP, CPE, Vice President of Cancer Services and Chief Innovation Officer at JTCC and President, Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA), who led the team that performed that first BMT in 1990. "To this day, some 6,000 transplants later, Leonard Vena remains an inspiration for all of us as we continue to embrace the care of each of our patients."
That first bone marrow transplant performed at JTCC in 1990 by Dr. Pecora used Mr. Vena's own cells. At the time, stem cells were harvested from his bone marrow, stored and then re-infused after heavy chemotherapy to eradicate his residual lymphoma. Nowadays, most transplants are performed using stem cells collected from peripheral blood from the patients themselves or from compatible donors, in that case to change their immune system and eradicate leukemia or lymphoma.
"That first step JTCC took in 1990 opened up new worlds of exploration, hope and possibilities in cancer care for doctors and patients," said Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, whose work was named one of the 100 most influential books written in English since 1923 by Time, and one of the 100 notable books of 2010 by The New York Times Magazine.
"Bone marrow transplantation has improved as a technique and as a treatment during the last 25 years. Today, BMT is used to treat a wide range of blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, bone marrow failure, and other immune system and genetic diseases," according to Dr. Pecora.
Advances at JTCC include the determination of the number of exact stem cells required for a successful transplant, the use of an anti-cancer virus vaccine, and the use of alternative sources of cells for donor related transplant. This includes cord blood transplant, haploidentical transplant, and unrelated donors in order to provide to a greater number of patients access to this lifesaving therapy. In addition, the cancer program has used robotic surgery for decades, making procedures less invasive, more precise, and with faster recovery. As a result, HUMC became an internationally recognized center for training in robotic surgery.
JTCC has also become a platform of discovery in oncology, particularly for novel therapies utilizing small molecules (targeted therapies) as well as immunotherapy. The Center has been at the forefront of many of the game changing therapies in cancer, according to Dr. Pecora. "Additionally, with today's rapidly changing healthcare environment, we are also proud of our Cancer Outcomes Tracking Analysis initiative known as COTA, an innovative bioinformatics platform that helps deliver value based care to improve outcomes," he said.
"The first transplant in 1990 was the first of many milestones in our rapidly expanding cancer program over the last 25 years," said Andre Goy, MD, MS, Chairman, JTCC, Chief, Division of Lymphoma, HUMC, and Chief Science Officer and Director of Research and Innovation of RCCA. "Since then, JTCC has become one of the premier oncology programs in the nation and one of the largest transplant programs in the world with more than 400 transplants performed annually – the highest number in the Tri-State area."
"Today, our program relies on more than 1,200 professionals dedicated to both cancer care and innovation with 39 presentations at the American Society of Hematology meeting this year alone," he added.
"We don't know what cancer care will look like 25 years from now," added Dr. Pecora. "But we do know that JTCC will be part of the next game changing chapter in oncology."
About John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center
John Theurer Cancer Center is New Jersey's largest and most comprehensive cancer center dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, management, research, screenings, preventive care, as well as survivorship of patients with all types of cancer.
Each year, more people in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area turn to John Theurer Cancer Center for cancer care than to any other facility in New Jersey. The 14 specialized divisions feature a team of medical, research, nursing and support staff with specialized expertise that translates into more advanced, focused care for all patients. John Theurer Cancer Center provides comprehensive multidisciplinary care, state of the art technology, access to clinical trials, compassionate care and medical expertise— all under one roof. Physicians at John Theurer Cancer Center are members of Regional Cancer Care Associates, one of the nation's largest professional hematology/oncology groups. For more information please visit www.jtcancercenter.org.
About Regional Cancer Care Associates
Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA), one of the largest oncology physician networks in the United States, is transforming oncology care by ensuring patients and their caregivers are an active part of the treatment team in all aspects of the management of their disease in a way that is life-enriching and respectful.
Regional Cancer Care Associates extends across New Jersey with more than 100 cancer care specialists, and is supported by 700 employees at 25 care delivery sites, providing care to more than 23,000 new patients annually and over 245,000 existing patients. RCCA takes responsibility to ensure access to the highest quality, compassionate and cutting-edge cancer care for its patients while controlling the cost of this care. For more information visit: www.regionalcancercare.org.
SOURCE John Theurer Cancer Center