Northeast Cancer Institute Releases Latest Local Cancer Surveillance Report

The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, a local community-based nonprofit organization, has released the latest report on cancer, “Cancer in Northeastern Pennsylvania: Incidence and Mortality for Common Cancers”.  The report is available at:  

This unique, locally focused report was compiled by Cancer Institute Director of Cancer Surveillance, Karen Ryczak, RN and Medical Director, Samuel Lesko, MD, MPH. The report documents that both incidence and mortality rates for cancer are significantly higher in NEPA than the U.S. It also identifies those cancer sites for which there is a disparity in either incidence or mortality. In NEPA, we continue to see statistically significantly higher incidence rates for lung and other tobacco related cancers, in both men and women, compared to the U.S. Of note, lung cancer screening is available and has shown to reduce mortality from this cancer.  The use of lung cancer screening is slowly increasing but remains low.  Individuals with a smoking history should discuss lung cancer screening eligibility, benefits and risks with their primary care provider. 

The goal in sharing these data is to raise awareness across the community and to promote collaborative efforts to reduce the risk of select cancers through healthy lifestyle choices and adherence to proper screening guidelines. The report offers important insight for Northeastern Pennsylvania residents, health professionals, and government leaders. 

For additional information or if you would like a hard copy of the full report, please feel free to contact the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute at (570) 904-8808 or

Geisinger Invests in Dickson City Cancer Center

Geisinger has announced the planned construction of a new, state-of-the-art cancer center designed to make better health easier in Lackawanna County by expanding services, hiring new providers and offering more appointments in the community.

According to market forecasts, the need for cancer care in Lackawanna County is expected to grow by 3.2 percent over the next five years, and Geisinger has outgrown its current cancer center at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton. The planned 55,000-square-foot, $58 million Dickson City facility, located on the north end of Viewmont Drive, will provide a broader spectrum of services closer to home for county residents.

Construction is scheduled to begin in Spring 2022, and when the center opens in late 2023, it will house a hematology/oncology clinic with 17 exam rooms, 22 infusion bays and 3 multidisciplinary spaces and will also provide radiation oncology – a first for Geisinger in Lackawanna County – palliative medicine, pharmacy and laboratory services. Patient amenities will include food service and a coffee bar, a specialty boutique and courtyards and gardens with natural views and vistas.

“As more of our friends and neighbors trust us with their care, we need to provide more world-class cancer services to contribute to healthier, more vibrant communities in Lackawanna County,” said Ron Beer, chief administrative officer of Geisinger’s northeast region. “Geisinger has served northeastern Pennsylvania for 40 years, and this investment is further proof that we intend to care for and grow with our communities for many years to come.”

This new, full-spectrum cancer center will complement the Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Cancer Center at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, which is currently undergoing its own extensive expansion and renovation that includes the addition of an inpatient unit for treatment of complex blood cancers. Together, the centers anchor a regional cancer program that provides everything patients can find in major hub cities right here in northeastern Pennsylvania.

“The cancer program at Geisinger already features top-tier providers, comprehensive care teams, leading-edge treatment, advanced technologies and clinical trials,” said Rajiv Panikkar, M.D., chair of the Geisinger Cancer Institute. “By allowing the program to flourish, this new facility is another step toward making sure patients never have to leave the region for outstanding care.”

Located near the intersection of Interstate 81 and the Scranton-Carbondale Highway, the center will be within a short drive for most county residents. Chosen for its ability to serve as many patients as possible within a 20-minute drive time, the site is conveniently situated in the same hub as the Viewmont Mall and Dickson City Crossings. It will bolster the community not only by providing a destination for exceptional cancer care but also through the creation of dozens of new jobs.

The new facility will also free up much-needed space at Geisinger Community Medical Center to expand private room availability, improve the overall patient experience, and continue developing the city’s hospital as the region’s gold standard for critical care, cardiovascular care, trauma and more.

Additionally, Geisinger continues to explore all opportunities for growth at the Geisinger Community Medical Center that will provide even more investments for a healthier, more vibrant city.

Researchers Discover Protein Complex That Promotes Cancer Growth

A discovery by a team of researchers, led by a Geisinger professor, could yield a potential new treatment for breast cancer.

In a study published this month in Cell Reports, the team used small molecules known as peptides to disrupt a complex of two proteins, RBM39 and MLL1, that is found in breast cancer cells but not in normal cells.

The research team discovered that the abnormal interaction between RBM39 and MLL1 is required for breast cancer cells to multiply and survive. The team developed non-toxic peptides that prevent these proteins from interacting in breast cancer cells, disrupting their growth and survival.
“Because these proteins do not interact in normal cells, the peptides we developed are not harmful to them,” said Anne M. Moon, M.D., Ph.D., professor at Geisinger’s Department of Molecular and Functional Genomics and senior author of the study. “This offers promise for future non-toxic cancer treatment.”

Further laboratory tests are needed before the treatment could be trialed in humans, Moon said.

Geisinger’s cancer research also includes the MyCode Community Health Initiative, which returns clinically relevant results to participants at increased genetic risk for cancer, including breast, ovarian and colon cancers. The National Cancer Institute recently awarded Geisinger a 5-year, $3.6 million contract to study the role of genetic variation in cancer through the MyCode initiative.

Geisinger has an exciting research environment with more than 50 full-time research faculty and more than 30 clinician scientists. Areas of expertise include precision health, genomics, informatics, data science, implementation science, outcomes research, health services research, bioethics and clinical trials.

Geisinger Awarded $3.6 Mmillion to Study Genetics of Cancer

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a 5-year, $3.6 million contract to Geisinger to study the role of genetic variation in cancer.

Researchers from Geisinger and the NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) will analyze genetic data from Geisinger’s MyCode Community Health Initiative, a precision medicine project with more than 276,000 consented participants. The work will be led by David J. Carey, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Molecular and Functional Genomics at Geisinger and a MyCode principal investigator, and Douglas Stewart, M.D., a senior investigator at DCEG.

The investigative team will use a “genome-first” approach, analyzing data from MyCode participants to identify specific gene variants and then linking that information to the participants’ electronic health records. This approach will allow investigators to determine the effect of these gene variants on cancer risk. The size and scope of the MyCode project provides an opportunity to investigate the relationship between multiple genes and cancers to develop a better understanding of genetic cancer risk in a large clinical population. This will expand the list of genes that can be used to guide genetic cancer screening, improving care for patients and families. 

This project builds on a history of successful collaboration between Drs. Carey and Stewart to investigate the role of gene variants in specific cancers, including a recent study of DICER1 syndrome, which is linked to lung, thyroid, and other kinds of tumors, published in JAMA Network Open.

“This partnership allows Geisinger and NCI investigators to combine our expertise in cancer diagnosis, epidemiology, cancer biology, and genetics,” Dr. Carey said. “The data available through MyCode provides us with a unique opportunity to investigate the genetic risk of cancer in a large regional population.”

Since 2007, MyCode has enrolled more than 276,000 participants in Pennsylvania. With DNA sequence and health data currently available on nearly 175,000 of these participants, MyCode is one of the largest studies of its kind in the world.

This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. 75N91021C00006.

Geisinger has an exciting research environment with more than 50 full-time research faculty and more than 30 clinician scientists. Areas of expertise include precision health, genomics, informatics, data science, implementation science, outcomes research, health services research, bioethics and clinical trials.