Now, however, thanks to advanced treatments and the efforts of Fevzi Ozkaynak, MD, a leading pediatric Hematology / Oncology physician at Children's and Women's Physicians of Westchester, there is new hope that state of the art immunotherapy, can, in many cases, eradicate the form of cancer known as pediatric neuroblastoma, and allow young patients to thrive and go on to lead normal, fulfilling lives.
"We concentrate on high-risk patients, usually with stage four cancer," Dr. Ozkaynak
"In essence we are working to cure cancer with immunotherapy - bolstering the immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells."
While immunotherapy is not new, Dr. Ozkaynak
colleagues are making new discoveries on how the immune system can be strengthened to counteract neuroblastoma.
work has helped to develop a procedure where antibodies adhere to the surface of cancer cells, enabling the immune system to target the disease, and eliminate it.
is proud of his
discoveries in the use of immunotherapy to treat a rare, but otherwise dangerous form of pediatric cancer.
And thanks to CWPW's network of offices throughout the Lower Hudson Valley, Westchester, The Bronx and Connecticut, parents have immunotherapy treatment available right in their neighborhood without having to travel to New York City or out of state.
"It's a rare disease, but this has really changed the direction of treatment for neuroblastoma," Dr. Ozkaynak
"Now, there is more hope."
Fevzi Ozkaynak, MD
How can parents tell if their infant or toddler might have neuroblastoma?
says it can appear as a lump on the abdomen or in the neck / chest area, or lower-extremity pain with no obvious explanation.
"You might find your child has a lump with no history of trauma," he
"This could be an indication.
Parents are urged to bring their child to a CWPW office for a proper diagnosis, which typically involves a biopsy.
According to Dr. Ozkaynak
, about 600 cases of neuroblastoma are diagnosed in the United States every year.
A nationwide study on the effects of immunotherapy on neuroblastoma was undertaken in 2000, and last year the outcome was heralded as a breakthrough - immunotherapy treatment had a 66 percent success rate, which is a 20% improvement over the standard approach.
Used in conjunction with traditional treatments like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, immunotherapy is viewed as very promising for ailing children.
"These are very important historical findings," Dr. Ozkaynak
"It has really changed the standard of care."
Antibody treatment can be physically grueling for children, Dr. Ozkaynak points out, but the advantages can greatly outweigh the downside, and now the immunotherapy treatment, which is produced by the National Cancer Institute
, is widely available.
Dr. Ozkaynak is also a professor of pediatrics at New York Medical College and staff physician at the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital.
e has been deeply involved in the use of bone marrow and stem cell transplantation to treat neuroblastoma.
A Vice Chairperson of the National Children's Oncology Group, focused on high-risk neuroblastoma patients, Dr. Ozkaynak is blazing new trails in treating infants and toddlers with solid tumors, with great success.