Studies of the Future

Clinical trials for breast cancer at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center help to individualize each patient’s treatment plan and establish new standards of care.
Breast Cancer Symbol Pink Ribbon In Tender Female Hands. October Health And Medicine Concept.


Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center has been at the forefront of the treatment of breast cancer for decades. One way the hospital maintains its reputation as one of the best in the tri-state area is by participating in clinical trials, which are research studies that help determine if a new drug would be effective in treating a specific condition. In partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center offers its patients access to innovative clinical trials, many not available elsewhere. Anya Litvak, M.D., a breast medical oncologist at The Cancer Center at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, is a principle investigator of a number of breast cancer clinical trials at the medical center.

“We have always prided ourselves with offering clinical trials of novel treatments of early stage and metastatic breast cancers—many of which have been FDA approved,” she says. In fact, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center was among the first institutions to perform a phase three clinical trial with Herceptin, which became the standard of care for patients with early stage HER2 positive breast cancer.

Each clinical trial has its own eligibility requirements, Dr. Litvak notes. Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center clinicians provide an individualized treatment plan for each patient which may include a clinical trial. “If a patient is identified to participate in a clinical trial, one of our nurse navigators will speak to the patient and connect them with a research coordinator who will ensure that the patient understands the study and help them navigate the next steps,” she says.

Drs. Anya Litvak and M. Michele Blackwood, M.D., chief of breast surgery, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Northern Regional Director of breast services for RWJBarnabas Health, in collaboration with Rutgers Cancer Institute, are currently working on the I-SPY 2 clinical trial, a series of trials that will change the way new treatments are developed for patients with stage 2 or 3 breast cancer that require treatment before undergoing surgery. “It’s an adaptive clinical trial for high risk breast cancer, and we are able to provide patients with novel agents to see if the cancer shrinks better with these treatments than with standard chemotherapy, ” says principal investigator, Dr. Blackwood. “The patient’s cancer is analyzed genomically and radiographically to assess the type and volume of breast disease,” she adds. “The treatments are tailored to a patient’s particular cancer and provide some of the latest, most novel anti-cancer treatments available.” Patients are monitored regularly to make sure the cancer is responding favorably. “This trial is groundbreaking and will take great care of our patients with locally advanced disease,” Dr. Blackwood continues. “By opening the I-SPY 2 trial on the Livingston campus, we have opened the pathway to personalized treatments for advanced breast cancer.”

“Patients do not have to travel far from home to get high quality care from a hospital that is devoted to their personal experience with breast cancer,” Dr. Litvak concludes. “We have a multi-disciplinary team of nurse navigators, social workers, breast surgeons, breast radiologists, oncology-certified nurses, radiation oncologists, dieticians, physical therapists, lymphedema experts, geneticists and integrative medicine physicians devoted to your care.”

To learn more about clinical trials at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, call 973.322.2934.

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