(Silver Spring, Md.) - Holy Cross Health Gynecologic Oncologist James Barter, MD and medical oncologist David Min, MD, two of the leading oncology experts in the Washington area, both with long standing reputations for excellence in women’s services, have now undertaken a bold new step in immunotherapy and personalized care for patients suffering from ovarian cancer.

Drs. Barter and Min along with the Holy Cross Health oncology team, are participating in a study with the University of Pennsylvania Ovarian Cancer Research Center Immunotherapy Program (OCRC.) The study focuses on developing new therapies which boost the body's own ability to fight ovarian cancer. One such therapy being studied is the effectiveness of cancer vaccines unique to the individual patient and developed from the patient's own tumor. View a Q & A interview with Dr. Barter to learn more.

Currently, up to 85 percent of ovarian cancer patients do not respond to traditional treatments or respond but later develop resistance, causing recurrence. "Ovarian cancer is a tough disease to treat and only about 30 percent of patients survive five years," said Dr. Min. "We need newer and more effective treatment modalities. Cancer vaccines are making great strides in survival rates for other cancers and this procedure is the first major treatment advance in ovarian cancer in decades."

Both physicians work closely with Holy Cross ovarian cancer patients to determine the viability of tumor storage as part of Holy Cross Health’s team approach to care. Recovered tumors are then sent to an internationally recognized organization specializing in tumor storage and processing for all types of cancer. Once a patient is identified as viable by the OCRC program, a vaccine is created as a post-surgery treatment option.

"The process is potentially life-changing," according to Dr. Barter. "Every year millions of cancer patients miss out on the opportunity to explore immunotherapy options because they are unaware of the importance of tumor preservation."

Holy Cross Health has an extremely robust gynecologic cancer treatment program. In Maryland, Holy Cross Hospital and Holy Cross Germantown Hospital perform more inpatient gynecologic and gynecologic cancer surgeries than any hospital or health system in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and clinical trials are an important aspect of patient care.

“Access to clinical trials through an active research program focused on gynecologic cancers and patient and family support through our ovarian and gynecologic cancer support groups are also a part of our team approach to cancer care” said Blair Eig, Chief Medical Officer, Holy Cross Health.

“New partnerships allow Holy Cross Hospital to offer state of the art clinical trials to our patients,” said Lyudmila Kalnitskaya, director, Clinical Research Program at Holy Cross Hospital. “They can receive treatment at Holy Cross, right in their community, so they can limit travel and remain under the care of their treating physician.”

For more information about the Holy Cross Health gynecologic oncology program and the cancer vaccine study, visit http://www.holycrosshealth.org/gynecologic-cancer



Holy Cross Health, founded in 1963 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, is a comprehensive Catholic health care delivery system that includes two hospitals and a network of community health centers in Montgomery County, Maryland. Holy Cross Hospital, the largest hospital in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, is located on the Kevin J. Sexton Campus of Holy Cross Health in Silver Spring. Holy Cross Germantown Hospital is the first hospital in the nation located on the campus of a community college. Holy Cross Health Network provides primary care at health centers located in Silver Spring, Aspen Hill, Gaithersburg, and Germantown and community education throughout Montgomery County.