Filter Stories By

Beating Cancer at the Cellular Level

Hoag is taking an up-close-and-personal approach to cancer care, with the launch of a revolutionary Molecular Imaging & Therapy Program.

This new program focuses on detecting and attacking cancer at a molecular level. Respected radiologist and nuclear medicine expert Gary A. Ulaner, M.D., Ph.D., recently joined Hoag Family Cancer Institute to provide Orange County cancer patients with access to National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trials and the ability to offer uniquely targeted personalized care.

“By detecting cancer at the molecular level, we can target treatment to kill cancer at its earliest stages, with minimum side effects for patients,” said Dr. Ulaner, who came to Hoag from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “This level of precision has the potential to better target and destroy cancers such as breast and prostate cancer, as well as myeloma.”

Molecular imaging uses radiotracers, a kind of tumor-specific dye that “lights up” in a positron emission tomography (PET) or computerized tomography (CT) scan. This allows physicians to pinpoint cancer cell locations and determine the best course of treatment. Molecular imaging is also used to monitor a cancer treatment’s effectiveness, determining if cancer has spread post-treatment.

“Molecular imaging can direct oncologists right to a cancer, rather than to where we guess it might be,” Dr. Ulaner said. “These technologies also show promise in helping us to evaluate the molecular composition of a patient’s immune cells to determine who will respond best to different types of treatment.”

These personalized, targeted capabilities push cancer care in Orange County into a new era – one that focuses on prevention, early detection and precision treatment. A celebrated medical educator, Dr. Ulaner plans to create a fellowship program for molecular imaging and assist Hoag’s growing clinical research.

“In addition to providing leading care to our patients, this program is training the next generation of cancer innovators to approach cancer treatment in new ways,” said Burton L. Eisenberg, M.D., Grace E. Hoag Executive Medical Director Endowed Chair, Hoag Family Cancer Institute.

“By supporting the development of a robust program to combine clinical research, education and patient care, Hoag demonstrates its commitment to providing patients with extraordinary treatment options,” said Dr. Ulaner. “I have been impressed by my colleagues and by this community’s embrace of cutting-edge medicine.”

Thanks in part to philanthropic support from the community, Hoag offers molecular imaging and therapy clinical trials for patients with prostate cancer and breast cancer, with additional studies on the horizon, including groundbreaking national research trials. Hoag was the first facility in Orange County to offer Lutathera®, a radioactive targeted therapy to treat neuroendocrine tumors.

For more information, call 888-362-9912.