NYU Langone Health’s growing Perlmutter Cancer Center just opened its fourth location in Brooklyn in Cobble Hill and is significantly expanding services this year in the borough to provide greater access to cancer services and subspecialized surgical and medical oncology care for a variety of cancers.
The National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, with 39 sites throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, is the only full-service Comprehensive Cancer Center in Brooklyn with a local hospital (NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn) for acute care and surgery.
“Brooklyn is the largest borough in New York City, and if it were to stand alone, would be the third or fourth biggest city in the United States,” said Benjamin G. Neel, MD, PhD, director of Perlmutter Cancer Center.
“It is a major part of our catchment area and home to an extraordinarily diverse community, much of it underserved,” added Dr. Neel, also a professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “Delivering the highest-quality services to patients closer to home is part of our mission, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to do this with our Brooklyn sites.”
The newest location in Cobble Hill, Perlmutter Cancer Center at Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Ambulatory Care Center at NYU Langone, will augment the existing Perlmutter Cancer Center—Sunset Park outpatient facility (22,000 square feet), as well as the Perlmutter Cancer Center—Midwood and Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Brooklyn—4th Avenue Oncology practices.
Perlmutter Cancer Center—Cobble Hill will offer a 14-bay infusion center that is contiguous to the cancer center’s office practice, where hematology and medical and surgical oncology providers will see patients. Located within NYU Langone’s new 165,000-square-foot Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Ambulatory Care Center facility, the center will house several multispecialty NYU Langone practices, ambulatory surgery, pharmacy, laboratory, and radiology services.
The Perlmutter Cancer Center—Sunset Park expansion will include new exam rooms, as well as the addition of a PET/CT simulation in 2024, which will be NYU Langone’s first PET scanner in Brooklyn. In addition, the number of physicians practicing at Perlmutter Cancer Center—Sunset Park will be doubled to ensure quick and easy access to specialists for patients with many types of cancer.
NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology is also opening a new breast imaging center in Bay Ridge (2 miles from Perlmutter Cancer Center—Sunset Park), which will provide additional screening and diagnostic services currently available only at NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn.
Ensuring access to clinical trials is another major Perlmutter Cancer Center goal. The cancer center recently expanded its Clinical Trials Office operations to Brooklyn with the first trial activated in July 2022; additional trials have been identified and are in the process of being activated.
In addition to this clinical expansion, Perlmutter Cancer Center is hiring disease-specific clinical (registered nurse) navigators to ensure that patients can easily access services across the Perlmutter Cancer Center network in the Brooklyn area and receive care close to home as frequently as possible.
Reaching Out and Caring for Underserved Brooklynites Who Have Cancer
In parallel, Perlmutter Cancer Center’s Community Outreach and Engagement Core has several ongoing community-based initiatives in Brooklyn focused on reducing cancer care gaps for underserved populations. In partnership with the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone and NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s Department of Population Health, each initiative engages trusted community stakeholders with the goal of developing evidence-based solutions for cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and survivorship while addressing social determinants of health.
Perlmutter Cancer Center’s Stamp Out Cancer Brooklyn program focuses on bending the cancer disparity curve in Brooklyn, whose underserved population includes 40 percent international-born individuals. A team of multilingual community health workers provides community-based outreach, education, and navigation services along the cancer continuum with particular emphasis on primary prevention and breast, lung, colorectal, and prostate cancer screening, as well as vaccination against and treatment of infectious agents linked to cancer.
Stamp Out Cancer Brooklyn created and convenes Brooklyn’s Cancer Prevention Action Network of community, clinical, and research stakeholders to help direct activities. The community health worker team recently completed a large-scale cancer health and resources assessment by surveying more than 2,000 residents within Perlmutter Cancer Center’s catchment area. The team has now pivoted to full-time navigation, and has already provided outreach and education to more than 2,000 individuals and navigated more than 500 of them to cancer services.
Serving as a model navigation program for Stamp Out Cancer Brooklyn is Perlmutter Cancer Center’s Beatrice W. Welters Breast Health Outreach and Navigation Program, which reduces barriers in breast cancer screening and care for the medically underserved across the Perlmutter Cancer Center catchment area. The Welters Program has pioneered a community-oriented patient navigation model that engages underserved women and facilitates access to a full continuum of personalized care, from screening to diagnosis, treatment, and post-treatment support.
The Welters Program also increases access to new breast cancer clinical trials and therapies at Perlmutter Cancer Center. The program deploys patient navigators in community settings, such as faith-based organizations, beauty salons, health fairs, and other community organizations, in languages appropriate to each person. Since launching in 2016, the Welters Program has held about 280 events, including virtual sessions, and reached the following milestones:
- educated 20,331 people: 4,602 at community organizations, 2,401 at faith-based organizations, 11,334 at health fairs, and 1,994 at clinic sites
- enrolled 3,985 racially/ethnically diverse clients, the majority of whom are Black (63 percent) and between 55 and 74 years of age (55 percent) and 45 and 54 years of age (27 percent)
- performed 1,813 screening mammograms—diagnostic imaging for 574 patients—and diagnosed 57 cases of breast cancer, for which patients subsequently received treatment
Perlmutter Cancer Center’s third initiative focuses on the LGBTQIA+ population. The center’s LGBTQIA+ Cancer Prevention and Treatment Initiative was launched in 2020 and is dedicated to addressing cancer disparities within LGBTQIA+ communities, also known as sexual and gender minorities (SGM), via three aims: to ensure faculty and staff are trained to provide SGM-affirming and proficient cancer care; connect the SGM community to cancer prevention, treatment, and survivorship services through linkages with SGM-affirming and proficient community organizations and providers; and advance understanding of cancer disparities in SGM communities through research.
Across its outreach programs, Perlmutter Cancer Center uses a multidimensional, patient-centered approach striving to meet patients “where they are.” Perlmutter Cancer Center has deep cultural competency with the Asian American, Afro-Caribbean, African American, Hispanic American, and LGBTQIA+ communities. Its navigators converse in Spanish, Haitian Creole, French, Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), and Russian and conduct culturally specific and in-language educational sessions in multiple venues. Using enrollment information, they develop a patient-centered approach to successfully link people to cancer screening and care and use evidence-based behavioral change strategies to increase uptake of practices that reduce cancer risk and support early detection.
Navigators work closely with primary care clinics in the NYU Langone network and contact eligible patients due for screening and follow up with patients who have abnormal screening findings to ensure adherence and continuity of care. They assist in making and accompanying clients to appointments for support and translation services and, if needed, provide transportation assistance.
All of this activity in Brooklyn serves the mission of the cancer center: to bring visionary thinking and compassionate care to the science of treating cancer with the goal of curing cancer in our lifetime. Perlmutter Cancer Center seeks to comprehensively address the cancer burden in our catchment area by providing high-quality, innovative, and compassionate patient care, advancing the frontiers of basic, translational, and clinical cancer research, and applying new insights from population science to prevent and control cancer in our community and beyond.