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Immunotherapy treatment now available for stage IV melanoma kidney cancer, renal cell carcinoma

Roger Williams Medical Center has launched Rhode Island’s only High Dose Interleukin-2 (HD IL-2) program for the treatment of stage IV melanoma kidney cancer or renal cell carcinoma. This is the only HD IL-2 program available for patients between major hospitals in Connecticut and Massachusetts. HD IL-2 is one of the first FDA-approved cancer immunotherapy treatments, which works to harness the body’s immune system to help fight cancer. This therapy has been utilized by cancer institutions for over twenty years, during which time major advances have ensued. Indications for HD IL-2 include metastatic renal cell carcinoma and metastatic melanoma. This therapy has proven to be effective in inducing long lasting responses in selective patients battling these diseases. The immunotherapy program at Roger Williams has worked closely with numerous hospital departments to successfully initiate this program. Intensive training and logistical preparation were required to establish the program. Physicians and ICU nurses attended several educational sessions with some of the leading experts and pioneers in HD IL-2 therapy.

Dr. Steven Katz, Director, Office of Therapeutic Development at Roger Williams, recognized the efforts of team members from nursing management, pharmacy, IT, finance, medical/surgical staff, ICU nursing, and Immunotherapy Nurse Coordinator Ashley Moody for their efforts in helping to launch this program. He also cited support from administration, Dr. N. Joseph Espat, Chairman of Surgery, and Dr. Vincent Armenio, Chairman of Medicine, in making this program available.

"As other, more modern treatments for melanoma and kidney cancer are introduced, I expect that we will have a growing population of patients living with stable and slow moving disease," said Dr. Katz. "As such, and somewhat counterintuitively, I expect HD IL-2 to play a larger role over the next 5 years than it has in the recent past. Above all else, this effort illustrates how our patient-centered philosophy and strong commitment to cancer care have enabled us to offer yet another immunotherapy option for Rhode Islanders."

To learn more, please call 401-456-2268.