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Study's Vice Chair
Director of the Transplant Program
Director of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program At Maria Fareri Children's Hospital
Professor of Pediatrics
New York Medical College
Researchers from the Children's Oncology Group, which includes M. Fevzi Ozkaynak,.
M.D., a pediatric oncologist and Director of the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant program at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, today demonstrated that a new immunotherapy treatment resulted in a 20% improvement in cure rates for children suffering from neuroblastoma, the most common cancer diagnosed in the first year of life and a condition that is responsible for 15% of cancer-related deaths in children. The findings, which represent a significant milestone in the battle against this difficult-to-treat cancer of the nervous system, were published today on the Web site of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) for its annual conference. Dr. Ozkaynak is the study's vice chair and a local patient of Dr. Ozkaynak's at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital participated in the study. Congratulations to everyone involved.
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 explains. "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 and his colleagues are making new discoveries on how the immune system can be strengthened to counteract neuroblastoma. His 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. Dr. Ozkaynak 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 says. "Now, there is more hope." Fevzi Ozkaynak, MD How can parents tell if their infant or toddler might have neuroblastoma? Dr. Ozkaynak 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 notes. "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 says. "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.
Mehmet Fevzi Ozkaynak, MD
Hematology / Oncology Mehmet Fevzi Ozkaynak, MD is a member of Hematology / Oncology at CWPW and at New York Medical College where he is Professor of Pediatrics. He is the Director of Pediatric Hematology / Oncology and Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center. For the past eight years Dr. Ozkaynak served as the Vice-Chairperson of the Children's Oncology Group (COG) protocol to study best treatments for children with neuroblastoma. He is currently the Chair of a COG protocol aimed for Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Biological License application for immunotherapy in patients with advanced neuroblastoma. He chaired several other pediatric oncology projects dedicated to researching childhood cancer, in addition to the COG which is the largest group in North America that treats children with unified state-of-the-art protocols.
"It's a very bad disease," says M. Fevzi Ozkaynak, M.D., a pediatric hematologist and oncologist who is Director of the Bone-Marrow Transplant Program at the children's hospital.
Diagnosis of advanced cancer As vice chairman of a key clinical study of immunotherapy, Dr. Ozkaynak provided treatment that helped save the life of a neuroblastoma patient-8-year-old Brian Mullin of Stony Point. An ophthalmologist found a mass growing behind his eye and suggested the Mullins see Dr. Ozkaynak. If the disease is found early, in stage 1, a surgeon can remove the tumor and "that can be the end of treatment," says Dr. Ozkaynak. Then Dr. Ozkaynak thawed the stem cells and transfused them back into Brian's bone marrow so new blood cells could be grown. During this time, Dr. Ozkaynak began administering the experimental treatment, immunotherapy, as part of a clinical study sponsored by the national Children's Oncology Group, an entity within the National Cancer Institute. The study investigated whether introducing natural agents to help the body's immune system fight the cancer itself would benefit patients. Researchers across the country, including Dr. Ozkaynak, injected three substances into the subjects. Today, Dr. Ozkaynak even uses a term for Brian's status that cancer specialists use very cautiously. "We wait five years from the initial diagnosis," he explains.
Dr. Fevzi Ozkaynak, director of the pediatric blood and marrow transplantation program at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, performed the stem cell transplant May 3, 2007.
Other People with the name Ozkaynak
University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus