Jahan Aghalar, MD: Advanced Treatment of Male Cancers at New York Cancer & Blood Specialists

By Josh Garcia
Thursday, October 17, 2019

At New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, state-of-the-art treatment and wraparound support for exclusively or predominantly male cancers, such as prostate, penile, testicular, bladder and kidney cancer, do not begin at diagnosis and end at remission. They are tailored to meet the physical, emotional, spiritual and financial needs of patients across the spectrum of care.

Overcoming Barriers

Jahan Aghalar, MD

Patients sometimes forgo screenings, such as PSA tests and digital rectal exams for prostate cancer or self-exams for testicular or penile cancer, out of fear of the turmoil associated with a cancer diagnosis, according to Jahan Aghalar, MD, hematologist and medical oncologist at New York Cancer & Blood Specialists. Given the sensitive nature of these cancers, embarrassment can also be an obstacle.

“Every patient is different, and these cancers have a lot of emotional and psychological implications,” Dr. Aghalar says. “The key thing I ask patients to keep in mind is that early detection can almost always make a big difference in outcomes. I remind patients that knowledge gives them power. Knowing about a particular medical condition earlier only puts them in a better position.”

For Every Diagnosis

In most cases, early detection can lower the intensity of treatment, where indicated. For example, prostate cancer detected at an earlier stage may require less intensive hormonal therapy and radiation treatments or less invasive surgery.

“Certain types of cancer — prostate in particular — may not necessarily require active treatment if they’re caught at an early stage,” Dr. Aghalar says. “The overall health of the patient and the aggressiveness of the disease may determine whether we choose active surveillance or aggressive treatment.”

Regardless of when a cancer is diagnosed, Dr. Aghalar and his colleagues can provide life-lengthening and quality-of-life-preserving treatment, thanks to New York Cancer & Blood Specialists’ investment in leading-edge equipment and incorporation of advanced techniques. Technologies such as CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery, radium-223 bone-targeting agents and sipuleucel-T immunotherapy are making treatments more beneficial and less taxing.

“CyberKnife allows us to deliver therapeutic regimens of radiation to the prostate gland over the course of five sessions, as opposed to the standard regimens that can last significantly longer,” Dr. Aghalar says. “Aside from standard hormonal therapies and chemotherapy, we also offer sipuleucel-T, which is the only form of immunotherapy approved by the FDA for men with advanced-stage prostate cancer. It has been shown to prolong overall survival.”

For prostate cancer that has metastasized to the bones, radium-223 is another treatment option that delivers alpha particle radiation targeted to bone metastases, sparing surrounding bone marrow.

For advanced bladder cancer, treatment advancements also allow patients at New York Cancer & Blood Specialists to undergo radiation and chemotherapy — rather than complete bladder resection, as was more common in the past.

Treating the Entire Patient

Dr. Aghalar and his colleagues at New York Cancer & Blood Specialists address patients’ cancer-related emotional and spiritual issues, as well as financial hardships.

“We don’t just minimize the toxicity of the cancer treatments themselves but also the financial toxicity associated with treatment,” Dr. Aghalar says. “New York Cancer & Blood Specialists has access to foundations and organizations to help with the cost burdens of cancer care, and we have a financial counselor available to work with patients.”

Patients and their families can also leverage a wide range of resources through New York Cancer & Blood Specialists’ Patient Health & Wellness Program.

“All patients have access to our comprehensive Wellness Program, which includes a psychiatrist, nutritionist, spiritual adviser and social worker to help with the burdens they may be facing,” Dr. Aghalar says.

“We understand that the battle against cancer is hard enough. We see it as our role and privilege to provide great, comprehensive care close to home.”
— Jahan Aghalar, MD, hematologist and medical oncologist at New York Cancer & Blood Specialists

Care in the Community

Recently recognized as the Best Oncology Specialists for 2019 in the Bethpage Best of Long Island contest, New York Cancer & Blood Specialists has dozens of locations across the community to ensure that local patients always have quick access to high-level care.

“It doesn’t help patients and families to be in traffic for two hours or sit in a crowded waiting room,” Dr. Aghalar says. “We can provide same-day appointments when necessary, and we have multiple locations throughout Long Island, with standards of care and expertise that are comparable to those offered at large academic institutions.”

In addition to offering cutting-edge treatments, New York Cancer & Blood Specialists is currently engaged in 50 therapeutic clinical trials — six of them focused on prostate cancer. That brings access to promising treatments to patients early, while also contributing to the development of the potential future standards of care.

“We want as many treatment options in front of patients as possible,” Dr. Aghalar says. “We offer several basket clinical trials, which are focused on therapy that is not particularly related to specific cancer subtypes based on their anatomic origin, but rather on their underlying genetic drivers. This new era of genomic medicine is playing a more important role as time goes on, especially when it comes to cancer care.”

The growth of community oncology practices with the expertise that New York Cancer & Blood Specialists clinicians provide not only improves the quality of care local patients receive, but also the personalization of care.

“It comforts patients to realize they’re not just a medical record number,” Dr. Aghalar says. “Providers know them on a personal basis, and patients have a dedicated team of nurses, receptionists and physicians to meet their needs.”

Visit nycancer.com for additional information.