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Facing Breast Cancer? Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance at LVHN Brings Clinical Trials Close to Home

Clinical trials for breast cancer may offer an opportunity for effective treatment not available otherwise, but for some, the thought of unfamiliar physicians and extra travel time can be overwhelming. However, women with breast cancer no longer need to leave the Lehigh Valley to access groundbreaking clinical trials – they are offered here through Lehigh Valley Health Network’s (LVHN) alliance with renowned cancer center, Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK).

Suresh Nair, MD, physician-in-chief of the LVHN Cancer Institute, says LVHN’s inclusion in the MSK Cancer Alliance enhances clinical trial options. “We already offer a broad portfolio of breast cancer trials through the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and pharmaceutical companies, but having access to MSK brings the benefit of earlier phase trials and new medications that are earlier in development,” Nair says.

Exclusive treatments

For those who meet study parameters, the MSK partnership provides access to treatments that were previously unavailable at LVHN. One example is the current MSK trial treating androgen receptor positive, triple negative breast cancer patients with medicine typically reserved for patients with prostate cancer – a very novel approach, according to hematologist oncologist Ranju Gupta, MD, with LVPG Hematology Oncology and the lead physician in charge of breast cancer MSK trials at LVHN.

Gupta explains that this trial is very small but targets a subset of breast cancer patients who need options. “LVHN now has three patients on the trial,” she says. “This is a very aggressive disease that tends to come back, and these patients have benefitted from such a targeted trial.”

Ripple effect

According to Gupta, LVHN has completed a number of MSK breast cancer trials and is in the process of getting more. Additionally, access to competitive pharmaceutical trials has also become much easier for LVHN simply because of the association with MSK. Together, these trial opportunities and LVHN’s highly regarded clinical trial team ensure that patients are being constantly screened and paired with appropriate clinical studies.

Gupta also emphasizes that the MSK partnership benefits all patients with breast cancer, even those who aren’t participating in a clinical trial. These benefits include integrated learning (where oncologists from both organizations meet and confer on challenging cases), as well as the adoption of MSK standards of care into everyday practice at LVHN.

“Our patients can be assured that they will get the same type of treatment that they would get at MSK, but here in the Lehigh Valley, without traveling far from home,” Gupta says.

Learn more about Cancer Clinical Trials at Lehigh Valley Health Network. Visit LVHN.org/MSK.