One year since its opening, Perlmutter Cancer Center—Sunset Park continues to expand comprehensive care and access to lifesaving screening programs and clinical trials to the communities of Brooklyn and Staten Island.
“Breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer are on the rise in Brooklyn,” says Rami K. Daya, MD, head of medical oncology and infusion at Perlmutter Cancer Center—Sunset Park, as well as the medical director of the Infusion Center at NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn. “Many individuals in the community don’t have access to commercial health insurance for cancer screenings, and they experience other poor health and socioeconomic factors that are highly correlated to many of these diseases.”
The center in Sunset Park, located at 5718 Second Avenue, offers medical appointments, chemotherapy, and radiation oncology for many types of cancer at a single, convenient location. Infusion treatments for neurological and rheumatologic conditions also are available at the site. For complex cases, the Sunset Park medical team is supported by the broader Perlmutter Cancer Center network of doctors, who can provide multidisciplinary consultation when needed.
“This past year, more than a thousand patients have experienced the benefits of being patients at Perlmutter Cancer Center—Sunset Park, and we expect that number to continue to grow,” says Benjamin G. Neel, MD, PhD, director of NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center. “Our goal is to save lives through early detection and by providing the very best care at all of our locations in the region, and especially in Brooklyn.”
Enhancing Access to Comprehensive Cancer Care in the Community
Min Li, a 64 year-old patient from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, was referred this past February to Abraham Chachoua, MD, associate director for cancer services at Perlmutter Cancer Center, who helped launch the Sunset Park center and sees patients there one day a week. After Li’s treatment for lung cancer at another cancer center was unsuccessful, Dr. Chachoua saw him at Sunset Park.
“On further testing, I noted that Mr. Li’s cancer had a very specific mutation, which is targetable using a novel oral therapy on a clinical trial,” says Dr. Chachoua. “This trial was available at the Perlmutter Cancer Center Manhattan location with Dr. Joshua K. Sabari as the principal investigator. No other sites in Brooklyn offer this trial, and ordinarily Mr. Li would just receive more chemotherapy. I referred him to Dr. Sabari so that he could be enrolled in the study.”
“Right now, I feel very good. The symptoms are gone, and I feel no more pain,” Li shared through a Mandarin interpreter. “The tumor has gotten smaller, there’s no more shortness of breath, and I’m gaining weight. I’m very happy.”
“Using advanced testing techniques, paired with innovative clinical trials, gives patients the best options for treatment,” says Dr. Chachoua. “After a thorough assessment of his specific cancer mutation, we were able to connect Mr. Li to alternative treatment options that would not be otherwise available. That to me is one of the advantages of having a Comprehensive Cancer Center in Brooklyn.”
Dr. Chachoua also notes that plans are underway to roll out integrated lung and colon cancer screening programs in Brooklyn, with support from private philanthropy, to ensure all patients have access to screening regardless of their health insurance status or ability to pay. “Screening is especially important for those with risk factors but who currently are not experiencing symptoms, as patients experience better outcomes with early detection and treatment,” says Dr. Chachoua.
Providing Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic—and Beyond
The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic created an unprecedented health crisis across the entire nation, with many people delaying care. Cancer experts worldwide are very concerned that the suspension of important screenings and treatment during COVID-19 could lead to “stage migration”—detection of the cancer at a more advanced state—in people receiving a cancer diagnosis.
Nonetheless, Perlmutter Cancer Center—Sunset Park has remained open to care for those whose treatment cannot be postponed during the pandemic. “Cancer doesn’t wait—many patients couldn’t stay home during this time without worsening their outcome,” says Amy N. Solan, MD, head of radiation services at Perlmutter Cancer Center—Sunset Park and chief of the radiation oncology service at NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn. “People with cancer still need treatment, and we made sure that everyone received—and continues to receive—the best, safest care during this uncertain time.”
NYU Langone also created flexible options for patients, including video doctor visits for appointments, when possible, and put in place strict safety and social distancing procedures, following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for when patients need to come into the office or the hospital. Read more about what NYU Langone is doing to help patients stay safe.
Locations Throughout the New York Metropolitan Area
Perlmutter Cancer Center has multiple locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, making access to quality cancer care more convenient. It also is the only National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Brooklyn—the highest ranking a cancer program can achieve—for providing state-of-the-art, research-based approaches to preventing, detecting, and treating cancer.
In addition to Sunset Park, Perlmutter Cancer Center has other locations in Brooklyn: Perlmutter Cancer Center—Midwood, Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Brooklyn—4th Avenue Oncology, and Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Hematology Oncology Associates—Brooklyn.
Deborah “DJ” Haffeman