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Princeton Cancer Center receives $2.5M for geriatric cancer research

Dawn Furnas//March 23, 2023

Princeton Cancer Center receives $2.5M for geriatric cancer research

Dawn Furnas//March 23, 2023

The Penn Medicine Princeton Cancer Center received a $2.5 million grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation to help fund a program aimed at improving care for older cancer patients. 

The goals of the new Geriatric Oncology Program at the cancer center – which is located at Princeton Medical Center in Plainsboro – are to provide a better understand of geriatric cancer and increase outreach to seniors in central New Jersey. 

James Demetriades, CEO of Penn Medicine Princeton Health, said 70% of Princeton Cancer Center patients with cancer are 65 or older, and 18% are at least 80 years old.  

“Every one of those individuals faces unique challenges, and we are committed to working with them to develop care plans that meet their unique needs,” Demetriades added. 

According to the cancer center, historically, older adults have not been well-represented in clinical trials, making it harder for oncologists to match this demographic with the latest treatments. The new program aims to bridge this health-equity gap. 

When Mimi Reed, age 87, was diagnosed with uterine cancer, her main goal was to maintain her independence. Dr. Ramy Sedhom, at Penn Medicine Princeton Cancer Center was able to help her do just that.
When Mimi Reed, age 87, was diagnosed with uterine cancer, her main goal was to maintain her independence. Dr. Ramy Sedhom, at Penn Medicine Princeton Cancer Center was able to help her do just that. – PENN MEDICINE PRINCETON CANCER CENTER

Dr. Ramy Sedhom, a clinical assistant professor of Hematology-Oncology in the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania, will lead the program. 

Sedhom also is co-leader of Geriatric Oncology for the Penn Medicine system, a faculty member at the Penn Center for Cancer Care Innovation, and a representative on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Clinical Practice Guideline Committee for Older Adult Oncology. 

Sedhom, who praised the foundation for providing the funding, explained, “There is a core tenant in geriatrics — you don’t know what you don’t know. Older adults are a distinct group with unique personal and caregiver needs.”

As part of the program, patients ages 80 and older will undergo a geriatric assessment to evaluate their health, as well as social, cultural, spiritual, financial and emotional factors. The program will include other initiatives, such as recruiting more experts in the field and testing new treatments. 

John Damonti, president of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, applauded the Princeton Cancer Center’s efforts, saying the program is in the spirit of the foundation’s focus on heath equity, which “has a goal to empower and scale new ideas with the potential to improve and flourish.” 


High praise

The Princeton Medical Center was one of only three hospitals in New Jersey to earn a Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award for 2023. Read the full list here.

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