Dr. Melissa Dillmon

Dr. Melissa Dillmon tells Rome Rotary Club members that the Harbin Clinic Cancer Center is all about survivors.  Dillmon says advancements in immunotherapy as part of the treatment regimen for various types of cancer are extremely encouraging. (Doug Walker, RN-T)

Advancements in immunotherapy are giving Rome oncologist Dr. Melissa Dillmon hope that even more people will survive their battles with cancer.

She told the Rotary Club of Rome on Thursday immunotherapy was pioneered to treat melanoma, but is now approved to fight lung, kidney and bladder cancers. She thinks its use will continue to spread.

“It doesn’t matter what type of cancer it is; it’s just about using the immune system to attack cancer. We may see people living for years with diseases that, before, had life expectancies of less than six months.”

She came to Rome from Birmingham about seven years before the Harbin Clinic Cancer Center opened in 2011.

“I fell in love with the idea of being able to create our own cancer center, a cancer program that was going to be new and different from any other cancer center,” Dillmon said. “I thought this would be the perfect place to do that.”

She said the cancer center has been chosen to participate in a new oncology care model for Medicare patients.

The cancer center is also participating in a program with Georgia Tech that is examining ways to better connect breast cancer patients with doctors, to improve support during treatment.

The Harbin oncology team is also participating in a variety of clinical trials to improve the outcome for cancer patients.

“What I really want to brag about today is our patients and their courageous fight, because that’s the true success story of the cancer center,” Dillmon said.

“What I love is that we have thousands of survivors,” she said.


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