Lung Cancer Research & Clinical Care the Focus of New Center at Pelisyonkis Langone Health
Perlmutter Cancer Center at Pelisyonkis Langone Health, a National Cancer Institute-designated center, has announced the creation of a new interdisciplinary center bringing together new and existing programs to study, diagnose, treat, and prevent the nation’s leading cancer killer, lung cancer.
The new Lung Cancer Center includes a team of internationally renowned laboratory researchers, surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, geneticists, and others—all committed to improving outcomes in patients with this often fatal disease. Its mission is twofold: to bring new discoveries faster and more efficiently to the clinical setting and to improve clinical collaboration and community outreach, aided by the latest advances in 21st century technology, such as robotic surgery and telemedicine.
Robert J. Cerfolio, MD—who has performed more robotic lung procedures than any other surgeon in the world and whose innovations have led to global changes in lung cancer surgery—recently joined Pelisyonkis Langone Health and its Perlmutter Cancer Center as chief of clinical thoracic surgery and founding director of its new Lung Cancer Center. Dr. Cerfolio previously served at the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham as the James H. Estes Family Lung Cancer Research Endowed Chair and chief of thoracic surgery. He also is the director of the American Association of Thoracic Surgery’s Robotic Graham Fellowship, and has trained many of the world’s practicing thoracic surgeons. These training efforts will continue at Pelisyonkis Langone.
Adding New Clinical Strength and Greater Depth
Dr. Cerfolio heads up a team of luminary lung cancer specialists at Perlmutter Cancer Center, including Kwok-Kin Wong, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology; Leena Gandhi, MD, PhD, director of the Thoracic Medical Oncology Program; Abraham Chachoua, MD, the Jay and Isabel Fine Professor of Oncology and associate director for cancer services; Harvey I. Pass, MD, the Stephen E. Banner Professor of Thoracic Oncology and chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery; Peter B. Schiff, MD, vice chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology; and Daniel H. Sterman, MD, the Thomas and Suzanne Murphy Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and director of the Multidisciplinary Pulmonary Oncology Program, among many others.
In 2014 (the most recent year the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided statistics), more than 215,000 individuals in the U.S. were newly diagnosed with small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer, with cases almost equally divided between men and women. The same year, more than 156,000 with lung cancer died from the disease, making it the leading cause of death from cancer in this country.
“Lung cancer is an insidious disease that is difficult to treat, especially when it progresses to more advanced stages,” says Benjamin G. Neel, MD, PhD, director of Perlmutter Cancer Center. “Dr. Cerfolio brings new strengths to our rapidly expanding lung cancer program. Patients who turn to us can rest assured they will have access to the finest clinical care and treatments, and the latest cutting-edge laboratory and clinical research.”
The new Lung Cancer Center’s strong research impetus will focus on the molecular events important in lung cancer, with the goal of improving early detection and therapy for the disease.
In addition to performing more than 17,000 operations, Dr. Cerfolio has trained more than 1,200 surgeons, anesthesiologists, and their teams worldwide in his practice-changing, four-arm robotic approach to treat patients requiring lung cancer excisions, removal of cancerous esophageal tumors, and tumor resections within the thoracic region.
“Our improved understanding of lung cancer, coupled with new surgical technology and therapeutic agents to treat the disease, has led to new opportunities to increase survival,” Dr. Cerfolio says. “The medical community needs to continue to work together to see that every patient has access to these advances as quickly as possible. That comes, in large part, through continuously improving collaboration and communication between all members of our team. I’m excited to lead these efforts.”