‘Smart Molecules’

For the past 18 years, The Cancer Care Center at Warren General Hospital has held a Nursing Oncology Seminar, focusing each year on a different cancer topic.

The topic on Thursday was Specifics of Care of Patients with Lymphoma.

In addition to physicians and staff from WGH, personnel from Corry Memorial and Titusville Area hospitals attended the day-long event.

Every March, Terry Cook, RN, director of Oncological Services at WGH, begins writing a grant application to fund the seminars.

This year the the keynote speaker was Jing-Zhou Hou, M.D. Ph.D., the chair of Lymphoma and Leukemia at UPMC Pittsburgh. Cook said Hou is considered to be a world-class expert in the field.

Hou’s presentation documented survival rates in clinical trials of combinations of medications, irradiation and bone marrow transplants over a five-year period. The trials show significant increases in survival rates with new methods and treatments.

Other presenters included WGH’s Valeriy Sedov, MD; Leroy Korb, MD; Jennifer Orzano-Birgani, MD; Greta Kramer, Pharm D; and Anne Rassiga, MD.

Sedov said some advances in medicine, as well as other disciplines result from accidental discoveries. He explained that an explosion on a ship carrying mustard gas in World War II killed everyone aboard, and later investigations showed that the gas had also destroyed the victims’ white blood cells. That led to mechlorethemine, the first chemotherapy drug for lymphoma.

He added, “We’ve come a long way. Today we have smart molecules that are less toxic and more powerful.”

Cook said, “We’re blessed here in Warren with the talent we have.”

He noted the focus for the day was on treatment regimens and current protocols, and added that the seminars are joint ventures among staff, pharmacy, palliative care, hospice and post-treatment supportive care.

Palliative care is a supportive side effect management plan, treating and relieving the pain and symptoms of a disease, while other treatments are focusing on the disease itself.