Breakthroughs in immuno-oncology treatments promising for cancer patients

November 20, 2014 05:04 PM

In the last decade, there has been a paradigm shift in cancer treatment. Dr. Andrew L. Pecora, chief innovations officer, professor and vice president of cancer services at John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, recently spoke to The Star-Ledger about an emerging area of medicine called immuno-oncology, which focuses on the body’s potential for generating an immune response against cancer.

Q: What is immuno-oncology, and why are so many patients interested in learning more about it?
A: Immuno-oncology represents a new form of treatment where medications are given that alter a patient’s own immune system, enabling it to attack and destroy the cancer. In some cases, it can possibly even cure the cancer that was previously incurable.

Q: How is the John Theurer Cancer Center participating in immuno-oncology?
A: Physicians at the John Theurer Cancer Center have been leaders in the development of most of the new immuno-oncology medications now available and continue to be involved in several different types still in development. We are thrilled to be able to offer our patients access to an expanded set of immunotherapy resources through a joint discovery program called the Regional Immunotherapy Discovery Program. This alliance between the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, the John Theurer Cancer Center, Regional Cancer Care Associates and the Medstar-Georgetown Cancer Network will enable us to more meaningfully contribute to the advancement of immunotherapy research. Recent breakthroughs allow us to more rapidly apply new developments to a broad array of cancer patients in the Northeast. The Regional Immunotherapy Discovery Program is at the forefront of producing clinical evidence that the immune system can be harnessed to eradicate malignant cells, improve overall survival and potentially cure patients with otherwise
incurable cancer.

HUMC20130206Dr. Andrew L. Pecora, chief innovations officer, professor and vice president of cancer services at John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center. Dr. Pecora also serves as president of Regional Cancer Care Associates.

Q: In what types of cancer are immuno-oncology drugs being used?
A: Immuno-oncology drugs have shown to treat several solid tumors, including melanoma, lung cancer, bladder cancer, renal cancer and breast cancer. In addition, other cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, have shown promise in immunotherapy.

Q: How can I learn more about immuno-oncology and the John Theurer Cancer Center?
A: The John Theurer Cancer Center is on the cutting-edge of immuno-oncology. The mission of the cancer center is to deliver extraordinary care that is multidisciplinary, personalized, innovative and at the appropriate cost with superior outcomes to the most satisfied patients. Throughout the past 25 years, the John Theurer Cancer Center has become one of the largest and most comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Today, we are among the top 50 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals for cancer — the highest-ranked cancer center in New Jersey with this prestigious designation.

To find out more, visit or call (551) 996-5900.




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