Francine Foss, MD, in honor of Blood Cancer Awareness Month

As we honor lymphoma awareness month, what do you want our patients and families to pause and remember?

Lymphoma is a disease which can strike any one of us, young and old, at any time. Often there are not predisposing factors or lifestyle changes which can be avoided. What is critical for patients and families to know is that we have made tremendous progress in lymphoma with a panoply of novel treatments over the last few years. Many of our newer treatments are not traditional chemotherapies, many are oral, and more recently we have seen precision medicine in the form of CAR T become a mainstream approach. With all of these new treatments and with better understanding of the genetic aspects of lymphomas from our laboratory colleagues, we have greatly improved the options for patients.


What inspires your work as a hematologist?

As a hematologist, I am inspired by the science of blood cancers, by our ability to see the cells under the microscope and to dissect them to understand what causes these cancers. Hematologic malignancies comprise many different types of cancers and occur in people of all ages. What is most inspiring is that research has led to cures and has improved the lives of many patients.


How does the team you are part of at Smilow/YNHCH help to support your patients?

At Smilow, we have a team approach to support our patients with lymphomas. Our practice nurses and nurse practitioners are a critical part of our support system and are in constant communication with patients and families as they navigate their way through their treatment regimens. Often times, our nurses are the ‘critical ears and eyes” of our practice, bringing patient concerns to our attention.

Many patients also interact with our social work team, who assist with emotional, financial, and logisitical concerns for our patients. Other Smilow resources include our nutritional support program and the Integrative Therapies program.


What advances have made the biggest impact in the treatment of patients with lymphoma over the last five years, and what is the outlook for lymphoma in the next five years?

What has made the biggest impact in the treatment of lymphoma over the past 5 years is the recognition that we can change the conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy paradigm which is often associated with side effects and long term toxicities in favor of newer and more patient-friendly approaches, such as oral therapies, targeted biologics, and immunotherapies with the potential for long term remissions and cure.

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