The merger of NYU Langone Health with NYU Winthrop Hospital (now NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island) in 2019 established a second Perlmutter Cancer Center campus on Long Island for patients to access care for solid tumors and blood malignancies. Since then, Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island has become a hub for treatment and advanced research, including the launch of innovative clinical trials. It now provides world-class cancer care to residents of Long Island—without the need to travel to Manhattan.
“A major driver of our expansion has been, to a large extent, Perlmutter Cancer Center’s marquee status as the only full-service NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center on Long Island,” says Eva Chalas, MD, professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Long Island School of Medicine and physician director at Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island.
Long Islanders want to stay on Long Island without compromising the outcome of their care, Dr. Chalas notes. With the ability to receive cancer care closer to home, families and friends can accompany patients as they navigate the challenges associated with a cancer diagnosis. They also do not have to spend hours in traffic to seek care or obtain an urgent evaluation.
“Unlike many of our competitors with similar credentials, Perlmutter Cancer Center in Mineola can offer a full range of sophisticated cancer care, access to innovative research studies, and, if needed, hospitalization at our high-performing hospital,” Dr. Chalas says. “Even with many other cancer centers in the area, patients are seeking alternatives and finding them at Perlmutter Cancer Center.”
Cancer Care Near Home Benefits from Ties to Manhattan
Among the advantages for Mineola patients are the strong connections between oncologists at Perlmutter Cancer Center’s Manhattan campus and their Long Island counterparts, which provide patients with access to the latest advances in cancer care. Last summer, for example, a patient with multiple myeloma received the first outpatient autologous bone marrow transplant, which uses a patient’s own stem cells, at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island. This was made possible through a collaboration with Samer Al-Homsi, MD, MBA, clinical professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and executive director of Perlmutter Cancer Center’s Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, and Marc J. Braunstein, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Long Island School of Medicine.
The availability of clinical trials, which provide greater access to state-of-the-art protocols and exciting new drugs, has grown under the leadership of Douglas K. Marks, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Long Island School of Medicine and medical director of the Cancer Clinical Trials Office at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island. Dr. Marks has also worked closely with Janice Mehnert, MD, professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and associate director for clinical research at Perlmutter Cancer Center, to bring phase 1 clinical trials—the first step in testing new treatments—to patients on Long Island.
“The clinical trial portfolio on Long Island has expanded substantially and currently includes four phase 1 protocols, with two additional phase 1 studies expected to activate imminently,” Dr. Marks says.
“The merger has opened the gates for us to do more for our patients than we could have imagined,” says Jeffrey G. Schneider, MD, associate professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Long Island School of Medicine and chief of hematology and oncology at Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island. “Access to clinical trials and the ability to increase the types of treatments that we can offer our patients has been greatly amped-up by the fact that we’re part of Perlmutter Cancer Center.”
Expansion of Existing Programs in Medical and Radiation Oncology
With the support of Perlmutter Cancer Center, Dr. Schneider’s team on Long Island has grown from 7 to 13 faculty and now includes on-site subspecialty expertise for every type of cancer. As a result, patients at the Mineola campus are now guaranteed expertise in the management of their specific type of cancer, whether common or uncommon, and access to the latest clinical advances.
Under Dr. Schneider’s leadership, Long Island’s first lung cancer screening program was established at the former Winthrop Hospital in 2012. The merger between Winthrop and NYU Langone has greatly increased the reach of the Lung Cancer Screening Program on Long Island, Dr. Schneider notes. “Our program is growing by leaps and bounds with the addition of two additional sites in Nassau, one in Suffolk, and another in Queens,” Dr. Schneider says. “Most importantly, we are gaining traction with referring primary care practitioners throughout the NYU Langone network on Long Island, with the end result being that more and more of our lung cancer patients are presenting with early-stage, surgically curable disease.”
Patients who require radiation therapy have access to CyberKnife surgery, one of the most advanced forms of stereotactic radiosurgery. Jonathan Haas, MD, clinical professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at NYU Long Island School of Medicine, was one of the first radiation oncologists in the United States to use this technology, and Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island CyberKnife Center serves as a CyberKnife training site for radiation oncologists around the world. In an effort to help patients in Suffolk County on Long Island, Dr. Haas and Todd J. Carpenter, MD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at NYU Long Island School of Medicine and Perlmutter Cancer Center on Long Island, will provide CyberKnife consults several days each month at Long Island Community Hospital beginning in May 2022.
“Our intermediate term plan is to have a full-service, on-site linear accelerator and CyberKnife treatment capability,” Dr. Haas says. “In the short term, residents of Suffolk County will have immediate access to the most experienced CyberKnife team in the United States for consultation and follow-up in their backyard while being able to be conveniently treated in less than a week at the Mineola campus under an hour away.”
In addition, Dr. Haas’s team recently introduced the Radixact treatment delivery system, another advanced technology that uses image-guided, intensity-modulated radiation therapy to shape conventionally fractionated radiation to the tumor while sparing healthy tissue. This system enables real-time, four-dimensional tracking and correction like CyberKnife does for stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) cases, further enhancing precision and accuracy.
Patients on Long Island also have access to the most advanced radiation oncology clinical trial protocols that Perlmutter Cancer Center offers, Dr. Haas says. In collaboration with Aaron E. Katz, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Urology at NYU Long Island School of Medicine, and David R. Wise, MD, assistant professor in the Departments of Medicine and Urology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Dr. Haas is conducting a trial aimed at decreasing the sexual side effects of radiation therapy in people with prostate cancer using a novel medication called darolutamide. Amy N. Solan, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at NYU Long Island School of Medicine, is conducting a phase 1 study at Perlmutter Cancer Center on Long Island investigating the potential of a caffeine-based antifibrosis cream for reducing the skin side effects associated with radiation therapy in people with breast cancer. Recently, Moses M. Tam, MD, clinical assistant professor Department of Radiation Oncology at NYU Long Island School of Medicine, joined Dr. Haas’s team to lead the head and neck, hepatobiliary, and gastrointestinal (GI) cancer services.
People with cancer on Long Island should know that not only will they receive the highest level of cancer care here, but the doctors treating them are also their neighbors, Dr. Haas says.
“We all live on Long Island, and most of us grew up in the area,” Dr. Haas says. “When people with cancer see us, they are not treated as just patients, they become part of our extended family. That is super important to me.”
More Patients Than Ever Have Access to Surgical Oncologists
“With the merger, a large number of physicians have come into our orbit,” says John D. Allendorf, MD, professor in the Department of Surgery at NYU Long Island School of Medicine and director of network relations at Perlmutter Cancer Center on Long Island. “Those physicians are now able to refer patients to the surgeons at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island and are available for our surgeons to refer patients out for different services.”
An ever-increasing number of practices on Long Island have come under the NYU Langone umbrella, Dr. Allendorf says. As those groups have come online, he and his team have worked hard to integrate them with Perlmutter Cancer Center, so that they can provide the best care to patients.
As an example, Dr. Allendorf cites the acquisition of an eight-person gastroenterology group that formerly worked for ProHealth. For Dr. Allendorf, who specializes in pancreatic and other GI cancers, the new gastroenterologists have contributed to a marked increase in the treatment of GI cancer cases. The esophageal cancer program, for example, went from handling a handful of cases a year to six in the month of December alone.
NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island’s minimally invasive surgery program, which enables surgeons to perform procedures with smaller incisions and shorter recovery time, now uses 6 robots with 60 percent of the procedures being performed for cancer. The program has doubled the number of robots available for surgeons, alleviating a bottleneck that resulted from the increase in referrals from local providers.
Disease areas that were well established on Long Island before the merger have grown in strength with Perlmutter Cancer Center’s support, Dr. Allendorf says. Hepatobiliary surgery has become more integrated with Perlmutter Cancer Center’s Manhattan campus with the help of Christopher Wolfgang, MD, PhD, member of the faculty in the Department of Surgery and chief of the Division of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. A new endocrine surgeon, Jason D. Prescott, MD, also a member of the faculty in the Department of Surgery at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, sees patients at NYU Langone Ambulatory Care Lake Success and NYU Langone Ambulatory Care Brooklyn Heights. Melanoma oncologist Maya Dimitrova, MD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, recently joined Perlmutter Cancer Center and sees patients at Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone North Shore Hematology Oncology as well as at Perlmutter Cancer Center—34th Street.
A major advantage for patients is the interdisciplinary conferences that take place between surgeons and other specialists, Dr. Allendorf says.
“We’re very fortunate that most of the patients on Long Island want to stay on Long Island, where they can get the best quality of care available,” Dr. Allendorf says. “Our patients benefit from the synergy of having their surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and internal medicine doctor all working together talking about their case once a week. That’s very powerful.”