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Hoag Introduces County's Most Comprehensive Melanoma/Advanced Skin Cancer Program

Categories: Press Room

Hoag Enlists USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center to Broaden Patient Access to Clinical Trials and Subspecialists

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., May 12, 2015 --- Orange County has one of the highest incidences of melanoma in the country, an alarming statistic that Hoag Family Cancer Institute is addressing through an aggressive and innovative program focused on advanced surgery and therapeutics, clinical trials and a special alliance with USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. The new program, the Hoag Melanoma/Advanced Skin Cancer Program, will be the first comprehensive program of its kind in Orange County.

Hoag is kicking off this program with several philanthropic gifts from members of the community, a level of support befitting a disease that affects so many in Southern California.

Melanoma requires a multidisciplinary approach, and Hoag has assembled the most highly trained team of every subspecialty that a skin cancer patient could require: Oncology surgeons, plastic surgeons, dermatologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, genetic counselors and clinical nurse navigators, to ensure that patient care is consistent and convenient.

“One of the aspects of our program that is so unique is the subspecialization across the continuum of care, all housed in the same place,” said Burton Eisenberg, M.D., Executive Medical Director of the Hoag Family Cancer Institute, Grace E. Hoag Executive Medical Director Endowed Chair and Professor of Clinical Surgery for Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Instead of shuttling between specialists and waiting for results, patients can see their surgeons, oncologists and other specialists all at the same clinic on the same day. That is the way medicine is supposed to work.”

Unfortunately, there are few – if any – melanoma programs that operate with this level of efficiency. But the Hoag Melanoma/Advanced Skin Cancer Program was designed by specialists who understand that multidisciplinary communication between specialists and with patients is essential to ensuring the best possible outcomes.

“One major differentiator of Hoag’s new program is access to advanced clinical trials, including a ‘cancer stem cell’ melanoma therapeutic vaccine trial. The melanoma vaccine is offered as part of a multi-national double-blind Phase 3 clinical trial for patients who have had Stage III recurrent or Stage IV metastatic melanoma,” Eisenberg said. “The experimental vaccine is developed from the patient’s own tumor cells and the patient’s natural immune-producing dendritic cells. The two cells are grown together in a laboratory to create a cancer-fighting therapy that, when injected back into the patient, should hopefully help delay disease progression and promote survival.”

“The plan for a comprehensive program in melanoma will include access to clinical research trials and new therapies for appropriate patients. Through our own clinical research at Hoag, and through our alliance with USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, our patients will have access to these potentially life-saving therapies,” Eisenberg continued.

Soon, this comprehensive program will also include a high-risk clinic for people with a strong family history of melanoma or for melanoma survivors who have a high likelihood of developing a second melanoma. The clinic will be overseen by subspecialized dermatologist Binh Ngo, M.D. of Keck Medicine of USC, in direct collaboration with patients’ referring dermatologists. This program will offer intensive surveillance using advanced testing and imaging, including genetic testing and mole mapping. In addition, a new special gene test will evaluate patients’ individual melanoma for a risk of recurrence score.

Bi-monthly, key physicians within the Hoag Melanoma/Advanced Skin Cancer Program will also meet for tumor boards to regularly develop the best treatment plans for their patients with melanoma.

“Hoag’s program compares favorably to the best programs in the nation,” Eisenberg said.

But being the best is not enough.

With a comprehensive, dedicated program, the Hoag Melanoma/Advanced Skin Cancer Program hopes to not only diagnose and treat cancer better than anyone else – it wants to turn the tables on melanoma in Orange County forever.


Hoag Family Cancer Institute and the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center have developed an alliance to expand cancer care for Orange County residents. This new relationship aligns Orange County’s highest volume community cancer program with the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the nation’s premier NCI-designated academic cancer centers. The alliance, jointly led by Burton Eisenberg, M.D., Executive Medical Director for Hoag Family Cancer Institute, Grace E. Hoag Executive Medical Director Endowed Chair and Professor of Clinical Surgery, Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Stephen Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center will enhance a variety of comprehensive site-specific tumor programs such as brain cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, gynecologic cancer, head and neck cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, prostate and bladder cancer and sarcoma, as well as expand access to leading-edge clinical research trials, only available at academic centers.


Hoag is an approximately $1 billion nonprofit, regional health care delivery network in Orange County, California, that treats more than 25,000 inpatients and 369,000 outpatients annually. Hoag consists of two acute-care hospitals, six health centers, and eight urgent care centers. Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, which has served Orange County since 1952, and Hoag Hospital Irvine, which opened in 2010, are designated Magnet hospitals by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Hoag offers a comprehensive blend of health care services that includes five institutes providing specialized services in the following areas: cancer, heart and vascular, neurosciences,women’s health, and orthopedics through Hoag’s affiliate, Hoag Orthopedic Institute. In 2013, Hoag entered into an alliance with St. Joseph Health to further expand health care services in the Orange County community, known as St. Joseph Hoag Health. Hoag has been named one of the Best Regional Hospitals in the U.S. News & World Report Metro Edition. National Research Corporation has endorsed Hoag as Orange County’s most preferred hospital for the past 19 consecutive years and, for an unprecedented 19 years, residents of Orange County have chosen Hoag as one of the county’s best hospitals in a local newspaper survey. Visit www.hoag.org for more information.