Kids' cancer experts from across NY gather for first time to talk collaboration

Kids' cancer experts from across NY gather for first time to talk collaboration

Pediatric cancer and hematology experts from Albany Medical Center, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, University of Rochester and Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital gathered in Syracuse Friday for the inaugural Thruway Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Collaboration conference. About 80 people attended the conference, hosted by Upstate.

Melanie Comito, MD, division chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Waters Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and Upstate Cancer Center, says the collaboration of four major medical centers in New York state has one combined vision of excellence.

“By meeting in person, we begin to form a more structured relationship. This conference gives us an in-person opportunity to learn from each other and explore possible research projects and grant opportunities,” Comito says.

While the conference is informal, the hope is to pinpoint the strengths of each individual center and investigate areas for future, and more formal, collaboration.

Comito says each institution is dedicated to keeping their patients close to home. If state-of-the-art patient care solutions are available in our region, these close relationships will allow medical teams to work together to keep patients in our state for as much of their care as possible.

Currently, each institution is part of the Children’s Oncology Group of centers and all of these institutions participate in the same clinical trials through that organization. In the past, physicians discussed treatment protocols for patients and consulted with one another on the best approach for difficult cases. The conference is an in-person extension of this relationship.

“Together we are always stronger. Finding collaboration rather than competition benefits our patients and their families,” Comito said.

The first Thruway Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Collaboration conference was held Friday, Oct. 27 at the Crowne Plaza, Syracuse.

Pedro de Alarcon, MD, professor and chair of Pediatrics at University of Illinois in Peoria, presented the keynote address. De Alarcon did his fellowship training in pediatric hematology/oncology at SUNY Upstate Medical University from 1976-79 under Frank Oski, MD. His keynote address is Hodgkin Lymphoma in Central America-Lessons Learned.

Going forward, the conference will be an annual event held in the city that is home to one of the four medical centers.

Caption: Melanie Comito, MD, is division chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Waters Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and Upstate Cancer Center.

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