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Cancer Research

Department of Hematology and Oncology, Geisinger Medical Center

Cutting-edge research, delivered locally

Our mission is to reduce the burden of cancer and to provide personalized cancer care of unrivalled quality to the residents of central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Our care delivery model is multidisciplinary and is comprised of ten teams of specialists, each focusing on a specific anatomic disease spanning the entire spectrum of care, from cancer prevention to active treatment to cancer survivorship.

Advancing the treatment of cancer and continually improving outcomes and quality of life is at the heart of what we do, and research is the key component of our mission. At any given time, we have between 80 and 100 research studies (protocols) for our adult patients within our cancer service line, including investigations in radiation, surgery, hematology and oncology.

Because the department is an integral part of Geisinger’s network of research centers, we are able to engage in multidisciplinary collaboration not available through other institutions. Support from Geisinger’s Sigfried and Janet Weis Center for Health Research, the Center for Health Research and the Center for Clinical Studies, enables scientists to concentrate on finding viable cancer treatments, explore cancer trends in the region, and investigate how such trends may affect the next generation of Pennsylvanians. All investigators also have access to Geisinger’s many research resources, including our award-winning Electronic Health Record.

Our membership in the National Cancer Institute’s Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP)—a network of community physicians, research centers and hospitals across the United States —permits large-scale clinical trials in an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of new ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer. Developed by the NCI in 1983, CCOP is a network connecting academic centers that design and conduct clinical trials with community physicians who explain and offer the trials to patients.

 This alliance nearly doubles the trials available to Geisinger patients throughout our 43 county service area and since its inception has  provided NCI-funded research studies to over 4000 Geisinger patients. These include trials from the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, Children’s Oncology Group, North Central Cancer Treatment Group–Mayo Clinic, and the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group. Albert Bernath, Jr., MD, director of Clinical Trials for Geisinger’s Cancer Institute, was one of the nation’s founding CCOP investigators and since its inception has served as the program’s PI.

 Recently, we have also been chosen by the NCI to join a national network of community cancer centers offering expanded research opportunities and state-of-the-art care to rural, suburban, small-town and underserved populations. As part of this network, known as NCI Community Cancer Center Programs we can engage in new research opportunities for cancer patients, from screening and treatment to follow-up care.

 For 35 years, our Breast Services, in collaboration with NSABP (National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Program), have helped to conduct history-making research that has improved outcomes for women with breast cancer or for women at risk for developing the disease. This commitment was recently evidenced by Geisinger’s participation in the STAR Study (Study of Raloxifene and Tamoxifen) - one of the largest breast cancer prevention clinical trials ever conducted. External affiliations with Fox Chase Cancer Center provide opportunity for additional collaborative research, including a clinical trial that may have a significant impact on breast cancer recurrence and survival.

Recent investigations include the study of Polycythemia vera (P. vera), a rare cluster of red blood cancer occurring more often in residents of Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill counties than in residents of other Pennsylvania counties. With the combined efforts of Senator Arlen Specter and the Centers for Disease Control, Geisinger physicians and investigators have initiated a coordinated series of projects to study the disease and its occurrence in our patient population.

We are also part of the Myeloproliferative Disorders Research Consortium which in tandem with researchers from 28 institutions throughout the US and Europe, is committed to enhancing myeloproliferative disorders, a group of bone marrow cancers that include chronic myelogenous leukemia, polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia, and primary myelofibrosis.

For further information about Geisinger’s Department of Hematology and Oncology research initiatives, contact us.