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Community Hospital East begins offering state-of-the-art melanoma cancer treatment

For release on April 21, 2016

INDIANAPOLISCommunity Hospital East announced today it will begin treating certain melanoma cancer patients with the first-ever oncolytic immunotherapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“At Community, we believe in making world-class, cutting-edge therapies available to our patients,” said Dr. Natraj Reddy Ammakkanavar, a Community Physician Network board-certified hematologist and medical oncologist. “It’s an amazing leap forward in providing treatment for those with this disease and increases patients’ survival rates, although it’s not a cure.”

This immunotherapy, which was approved by the FDA at the end of 2015, is an option for melanoma patients and involves a gene-modified version of the herpes virus injected into a tumor.

According to Ammakkanavar, the virus is modified so that it only replicates within cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells alone.

The virus eventually causes cancer cells to rupture and die. It also creates an anti-tumor response by the patient’s immune system.

“This attacks the melanoma two different ways,” Ammakkanavar explained. “First, the virus attacks the tumor cells directly, and then it programs a patient’s immune system to attack the cancer cells.”

This immunotherapy is given to a patient via injection directly into the skin cancer lesions.

“This innovative immunotherapy is a new treatment option for our patients in their fight against this disease,” said Ammakkanavar. “We at Community will continue to look for new and creative ways to provide the best possible care for our patients.”

About Community Health Network
Ranked among the nation’s most integrated healthcare systems, Community Health Network is Central Indiana’s leader in providing convenient access to exceptional healthcare services, where and when patients need them—in hospitals, health pavilions and doctor’s offices, as well as workplaces, schools and homes. As a non-profit health system with over 200 sites of care and affiliates throughout Central Indiana, Community’s full continuum of care integrates hundreds of physicians, specialty and acute care hospitals, surgery centers, home care services, MedChecks, behavioral health and employer health services. To learn more, visit eCommunity.com or call 800-777-7775.

Al Larsen, Executive Director, Content and Communications, Community Health Network
Al Larsen
Executive Director, Content and Communications