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Two New Clinical Trials For Cancer At New Milford Hospital



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Two New Clinical Trials For Cancer At New Milford Hospital

NEW MILFORD — New Milford Hospital/Columbia-Presbyterian Regional Cancer Center recently became the only hospital in Connecticut where two new phase II clinical trials are being held involving immune-boosting medications for chemotherapy patients with advanced colon and ovarian cancer.

 Many of the most promising cancer treatments are both less toxic and more effective than those of the 1990s and the newest are only available through clinical trials. Both trials at New Milford Hospital involve immunotherapy, which uses a patient’s own immune system to help battle the disease. Immunotherapy tends to have few, if any, side effects, and is often used with chemotherapy to improve chances of success.

The first trial uses a colon cancer vaccine (ALVAC-CEA/B7.1) along with chemotherapy in patients with advanced colon or rectal cancer. The study, done in collaboration with Dr Howard Kaufman, a surgical oncologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and director of clinical research at New York-Presbyterian’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, is a randomized study, where one third of the patients receive chemotherapy alone and two-thirds receive chemotherapy with the vaccine.

The second trial involves a new form of immunotherapy called Ovarex, an immune-boosting drug that has been shown to prolong survival in some patients with ovarian cancer. Dr Orion Howard, who recently was appointed research director at New Milford Hospital, joined the hospital from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston three years ago and collaborates with his partners, Dr Gerald Kruger and Debra Brandt of Northwestern Connecticut Oncology and Hematology Associates (NWCOHA) in the Ovarex study. One third of patients with newly diagnosed ovarian cancer get chemotherapy alone and two thirds get chemotherapy followed by Ovarex. New Milford Hospital and NWCOHA are the only places in the Northeast participating in the study.

Clinical trials are phased studies where new drugs are given to cancer patients to evaluate how well they work. Phase II studies are designed to assess whether or not a new drug is effective in a particular type of cancer, and are studies that often provide patients the fastest access to new treatments.

In the past, most trials have been conducted at large cancer centers, requiring patients to travel to New York City, Boston, or New Haven to receive the latest drugs. But now patients have direct access to more than 10 different clinical studies, including trials for lung and breast cancers, at the New Milford Hospital- Columbia-Presbyterian Regional Cancer Center. The center has a variety of clinical trials in association with both Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital and NWCOHA.

The hospital’s Regional Cancer Center now serves as a referral site where patients from more distant parts of Connecticut and eastern New York can receive innovative treatments locally. Patients or doctors interested in any of these trials can contact their oncologist or the Regional Cancer Center research coordinator at 860-210-5055.

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