Maryland Oncology Hematology is a guest on Great Day Washington

Dr. Surupa Sen Gupta and Dr. Colette Magnant represented Maryland Oncology Hematology on Great Day Washington to explain the importance of screenings, self-exams, and living a healthy lifestyle for breast cancer awareness month.



Stop Breast Cancer For Life

As we approach breast cancer awareness month tomorrow Maryland Oncology Hematology is proud to be partnering with Lifetime and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation for their 27th year of “Stop Breast Cancer for Life.”

Our lives have changed, but what hasn’t is our fight against breast cancer. Lifetime has proudly supported breast cancer research for over 25 years. Get information on mammograms during COVID-19, read personal breast cancer stories, watch thriver videos, find resources, and more with our features below. Link:




Hope Connections Support Groups 9/27 thru 10/05

Hope Connections has 25 different groups available this week for people diagnosed with cancer as well as their caregivers, family & friends. Click calendar to visit Hope Connections website for instructions on how to join these online groups.


First Time visitors must complete a “First TIme Visitors Form” on the Hope Connections website.



Once again for all classes visit the Hope Connections website by Clicking HERE


Do I need to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

As of Friday August 13th, the CDC is now recommending that people with moderate to severe compromised immune systems should receive an additional dose (booster) of the COVID-19 vaccine after the initial two-dose vaccine series. At MOH, many of our patients have moderately to severely compromised immune systems and do not always build the same level of immunity compared to people with normal immune systems.  The CDC recommendation identifies people with a range of conditions including:

  • Those receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Those that have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Those with advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Those actively being treated with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response


A full list of conditions can be found on CDC’s website.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


  1. Can you mix and match the vaccine type?

For people who received either Pfizer or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine series, a 3rd dose of the SAME mRNA vaccine should be used at least 4 weeks after completing the two-dose vaccine series.   A person should not receive more than three mRNA vaccine doses.


  1. What should immunocompromised people who received the J&J vaccine do?

The FDA’s & CDC’s recent amendment only applies to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.  There is not enough data at this time to determine whether immunocompromised people who received the J&J vaccine also have an improved antibody response following an additional dose of the same vaccine.


  1. Do I need a letter from my doctor in order to get the vaccine? 

At this time you do not need a letter from your physician in order to get the COVID-19 booster.  You will be able to self-attest that you meet criteria.


  1. If I am immunocompromised and I get the booster, can I stop wearing a mask?

While the Delta variant is surging, an additional vaccine dose for some people with weakened immune systems could help prevent serious and possibly life-threatening COVID-19 cases within this population.  Even after vaccination, people who are immunocompromised should continue follow current prevention measures (including wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others they do not live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces) to protect themselves and those around them against COVID-19 until advised by your provider .


Breast Cancer: What you need to know

Cancer is a collective term referring to many different diseases. Simply put, cancer is uncontrolled cell growth, which can lead to tumor formation. A non-invasive tumor (in situ cancer) remains within the tissue where it originated. A malignant tumor (invasive cancer) has potential to spread to neighboring tissues and can form new tumors (metastases) elsewhere in the body. Tumors become dangerous when vital organ function is threatened by the overgrowth of cancer cells1.


Breast cancer is expected to affect 1 in 8 women, making it the most common cancer in women, after skin cancer2. This article discusses: diagnosis, treatment, taking proactive steps, and finding support.



In 2019, the US reported 3.8 million breast cancer patients and survivors.

Although breast cancer incidence is slightly higher in white women, breast cancer-related mortality is almost 50% higher in black women3. More than half of breast cancer patients are diagnosed at an early stage; however, men are slightly more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage compared to women.  As men make up just 1% percent of all breast cancer patients, there is still much to be learned about male breast cancer2,4.



Created for the National Cancer Institute,

Breast cancer can be diagnosed by imaging and histology (pathologic review). Imaging techniques help to visualize cancerous growths. Mammography, the most routine imaging technique used in breast cancer diagnostics, uses x-ray imaging5. There are some limitations, such as mild discomfort, very low radiation exposure, and a false positive rate. Ultrasound is often used to further define mammogram findings.  Additional imaging techniques (such as MRI breasts) are sometimes used; however, these techniques are expensive and still lack specificity (can have false positive findings).

Histology is the study of cells under the microscope6. Healthy cells usually look very uniform, but cancerous cells vary in shape and size. This is one way that they can be identified under the microscope; however, some non-cancerous diseases can cause cells to ‘look suspicious’. In such cases, cells can be stained for breast cancer-specific biomarkers to clarify the disease diagnosis7.

Cancer staging:

Once a diagnosis has been made, doctors must determine how far the cancer has progressed. The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) classifies tumors using the Tumor Node Metastasis (TNM) model. Specifically, this classification describes: the tumor size, the number of lymph nodes involved, and whether the tumor has metastasized. The details of the TNM model can be summarized using a 5-stage system, where stage 0 is in situ (non-invasive) cancer, and stages 1 through 4 are progressive extents of invasive cancer. Cancer staging helps doctors determine how much risk the cancer poses to a patient, and how it should be treated8–10.



When breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, surgery can be performed to remove the cancerous tissue. A lumpectomy is surgery that only removes the tumor, while a mastectomy removes the entire breast. The choice of surgery depends on the breast size, tumor size and location, and other factors. Lymph nodes are often also removed to determine the cancer stage, or if they are already known to contain cancer cells11.


Lumpectomy, accompanied by radiation treatment, has become standard practice, as it reduces the risk of local cancer recurrence in both in situ and invasive cancer12.

Radiotherapy uses high doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells by damaging their genetic material. Cancer cells are limited in their ability to repair damage. This makes them more susceptible to radiation than healthy cells, which are better at repairing damage. Nonetheless, healthy cells and tissues within and surrounding the breast can be damaged by radiation. Accordingly, radiation treatments are carefully planned to spare and protect healthy tissue13,14.


Chemotherapy can be used to shrink tumors prior to surgery (neoadjuvant), to prevent recurrence after surgery (adjuvant), or to treat advanced (metastatic) breast cancer15–17. Chemotherapy is a systemic medication that damages the genetic machinery needed for cell division, making it efficient in eliminating rapidly growing cells (such as cancer cells). Healthy cells with a high growth rate, such as those found in hair follicles and the digestive system, are also affected by chemotherapy, and this leads to the well-known side effects of hair loss and nausea18.


Targeted therapy, often used in combination with chemotherapy, focuses on specific molecules that stimulate growth or survival in cancer cells19. Hormone therapy is used in specific breast cancers where growth is stimulated by the hormones estrogen or progesterone. When cells are prevented from interacting with these hormones, hormone-induced growth is inhibited20. Some therapies are targeted at proteins that are associated with the growth of certain breast cancers. Tumors with high expression of HER2 can be treated with anti-HER2 therapies, which inhibit the function of this protein21. The choice of targeted therapy is dependent on the molecule that a particular type of breast cancer ‘responds to’. This is an important step towards personalized medicine: profiling a specific patient’s cancer and treating it accordingly to maximize treatment efficacy22.


Interestingly, when a tumor first forms, the immune system recognizes this as a strange event and tries to oppose tumor formation. Some cancer cells develop mechanisms that make them undetectable to immune cells. This is called immune tolerance. Immunotherapy aims to re-establish the immune system’s ability to detect cancer cells and combat immune tolerance23,24.


Altogether, breast cancer treatment is a multidisciplinary approach that benefits from the combination of different therapies. Besides increasing treatment efficacy, combination therapy can allow for the use of lower doses, which reduces adverse effects and delays drug resistance25.


What you should do:

Women are encouraged to take a proactive approach to their health, especially as it relates to breast cancer. Primary breast cancer prevention is the avoidance of known risk factors. Secondary prevention is early detection26. The American Cancer Society recommends that women can choose mammogram screening starting at age 40, but that all women should start annual mammogram screening by age 45.  Also, adult women should consider performing monthly self-exams. Forty percent of breast cancers are detected by the patients themselves27,28.

When breast cancer is familial, or has an early age of onset, genetic testing is often advised. If genetic testing suggests a high possibility for breast cancer development, preventative treatments, such as medications or risk-reducing mastectomy, are available.  Also, enhanced screening for cancer is considered for some genetic testing results.  In all cases, the psychological effects of genetic testing should be taken into account. The cancer risk should be well examined in order to avoid unnecessary interventions29.

Finding support:

Breast cancer treatment extends well beyond the confines of the doctor’s office. Support groups, hosted by mental/medical healthcare professionals or cancer survivors, can offer shared experiences/education and can provide a sense of community and comradery30. Psychoeducational support groups provide patients and their families with the knowledge and psychological tools they need to move forward in a holistic manner31.

Cancer, of any kind, is a difficult road to travel; access to the right people and the right information can provide fuel for the journey.



About the Author

Carol Tweed, MD joined Maryland Oncology Hematology in our Annapolis division October 2020. Dr. Carol Tweed attended Duke University, where she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Biology, and a concentration in molecular biology. She received her medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha. She then completed her Internal Medicine Residency and Hematology/Oncology Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.

From 2006-2012, Dr. Tweed was an Assistant Professor on faculty at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center. During this time, she practiced as a breast oncology specialist and enthusiastically educated medical students, residents, and fellows.

In 2012, she moved to Annapolis, MD, and joined AAMC Oncology & Hematology, before joining Maryland Oncology Hematology in October 2020. Dr. Tweed passionately cares for patients with a broad range of hematologic and oncologic disorders. Her work as a breast medical oncology expert continues.  She is a regional speaker on the topics of breast cancer and cancer genomics. She is co-founder and co-director of the Maryland Breast Cancer Consortium.

Dr. Tweed is an active clinical researcher; she has served as principal investigator on numerous national and international clinical trials. She also is an Instructor of Medicine/preceptor for Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, educating medical students.

Dr. Tweed is board certified in Hematology and Medical Oncology.



  1. (US), N. I. of H. & Study, B. S. C. Understanding Cancer. (2007).
  2. Rojas, K. & Stuckey, A. Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk Factors. Clin. Obstet. Gynecol. 59, 651–672 (2016).
  3. Baquet, C. R., Mishra, S. I., Commiskey, P., Ellison, G. L. & DeShields, M. Breast cancer epidemiology in blacks and whites: Disparities in incidence, mortality, survival rates and histology. J. Natl. Med. Assoc. 100, 480–489 (2008).
  4. Breast Cancer Occurrence 3 Breast Cancer Risk Factors 12 What Is the American Cancer Society Doing about Breast Cancer? 26 Sources of Statistics 30 References 32.
  5. Gøtzsche, P. C. & Jørgensen, K. J. Screening for breast cancer with mammography. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews vol. 2013 (2013).
  6. McDonald, E. S., Clark, A. S., Tchou, J., Zhang, P. & Freedman, G. M. Clinical diagnosis and management of breast cancer. J. Nucl. Med. 57, 9S-16S (2016).
  7. Jafari, S. H. et al. Breast cancer diagnosis: Imaging techniques and biochemical markers. Journal of Cellular Physiology vol. 233 5200–5213 (2018).
  8. Cancer Staging – National Cancer Institute.
  9. Breast Cancer: Stages | Cancer.Net.
  10. Hortobagyi, G. N., Edge, S. B. & Giuliano, A. New and Important Changes in the TNM Staging System for Breast Cancer. Am. Soc. Clin. Oncol. Educ. B. 38, 457–467 (2018).
  11. Riis, M. Modern surgical treatment of breast cancer. Annals of Medicine and Surgery vol. 56 95–107 (2020).
  12. Castaneda, S. A. & Strasser, J. Updates in the Treatment of Breast Cancer with Radiotherapy. Surgical Oncology Clinics of North America vol. 26 371–382 (2017).
  13. Bhattacharya, S. & Asaithamby, A. Repurposing DNA repair factors to eradicate tumor cells upon radiotherapy. Translational Cancer Research vol. 6 S822–S839 (2017).
  14. Boyages, J. Radiation therapy and early breast cancer: Current controversies. Med. J. Aust. 207, 216–222 (2017).
  15. Anampa, J., Makower, D. & Sparano, J. A. Progress in adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer: An overview. BMC Medicine vol. 13 (2015).
  16. Redden, M. H. & Fuhrman, G. M. Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in the Treatment of Breast Cancer. Surgical Clinics of North America vol. 93 493–499 (2013).
  17. Grunfeld, E. A. et al. Chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer: What influences oncologists’ decision-making? Br. J. Cancer 84, 1172–1178 (2001).
  18. Bagnyukova, T. et al. Chemotherapy and signaling: How can targeted therapies supercharge cytotoxic agents? Cancer Biology and Therapy vol. 10 839–853 (2010).
  19. Su, H., Gao, Y. J. & Zhang, C. X. Advances in targeted therapy of breast cancer. J. Dalian Med. Univ. 35, 496–501 (2013).
  20. Puhalla, S., Bhattacharya, S. & Davidson, N. E. Hormonal therapy in breast cancer: A model disease for the personalization of cancer care. Molecular Oncology vol. 6 222–236 (2012).
  21. Pernas, S. & Tolaney, S. M. HER2-positive breast cancer: new therapeutic frontiers and overcoming resistance. Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology vol. 11 (2019).
  22. Chan, C. W. H., Law, B. M. H., So, W. K. W., Chow, K. M. & Waye, M. M. Y. Novel strategies on personalized medicine for breast cancer treatment: An update. International Journal of Molecular Sciences vol. 18 (2017).
  23. Gonzalez, H., Hagerling, C. & Werb, Z. Roles of the immune system in cancer: From tumor initiation to metastatic progression. Genes and Development vol. 32 1267–1284 (2018).
  24. Soysal, S. D., Tzankov, A. & Muenst, S. E. Role of the Tumor Microenvironment in Breast Cancer. Pathobiology vol. 82 142–152 (2015).
  25. Fisusi, F. A. & Akala, E. O. Drug Combinations in Breast Cancer Therapy. Pharm. Nanotechnol. 7, 3–23 (2019).
  26. Kolak, A. et al. Primary and secondary prevention of breast cancer. Ann. Agric. Environ. Med. 24, 549–553 (2017).
  27. Pace, L. E. & Keating, N. L. A systematic assessment of benefits and risks to guide breast cancer screening decisions. JAMA – Journal of the American Medical Association vol. 311 1327–1335 (2014).
  28. Roth, M. Y. et al. Self-detection remains a key method of breast cancer detection for U.S. women. J. Women’s Heal. 20, 1135–1139 (2011).
  29. Rousset-Jablonski, C. & Gompel, A. Screening for familial cancer risk: Focus on breast cancer. Maturitas vol. 105 69–77 (2017).
  30. Support Groups.
  31. Cipolletta, S., Simonato, C. & Faccio, E. The effectiveness of psychoeducational support groups for women with breast cancer and their caregivers: A mixed methods study. Front. Psychol. 10, (2019).

Maryland Oncology Hematology Gives New Meaning to Personalized Cancer Care

A Partnership Between Physicians and Their Community

Maryland Oncology Hematology believes in providing patients with advanced, comprehensive cancer therapies in a community setting that allows patients to receive care near their support systems. Our highly trained and experienced physicians work closely with a talented clinical team that is sensitive to the needs of cancer patients and their caregivers. Choosing an independent practice offers patients the chance to receive compassionate, affordable cancer care that utilizes the latest technologies provided by top physicians who are experts in their field. The best of care, close to home.

Patients can be assured that as an independent practice, MOH physicians are able to send patients to the best specialists or make recommendations based on specific care needs. We are never beholden to a practice or network. Unlike some of the major hospitals, our doctors are focused solely on oncology, giving patients the expert care that they deserve. At Maryland Oncology Hematology, we believe that patients are more than a number. Each patient will have a dedicated care team by their side from diagnosis through treatment to recovery.

Maryland Oncology Hematology is a community-based practice, entirely owned and run by Maryland physicians. Our team is devoted to providing state-of-the-art patient care for hematology and oncology, working on behalf of our community for the benefit of patients.

 I’m excited to be part of this highly respected community-based private practice,” said Jason Taksey MD., medical oncologist and managing partner for new Annapolis location. “Maryland Oncology Hematology delivers state-of-the-art care and remarkable treatments in an outpatient center that is safe, modern, convenient, and responsive to patient feedback.”

Why Patients Trust MOH

  • Comprehensive care including new radiation oncology services offered at White Oak Cancer Center in Silver Spring
  • Top-Rated Breast and Colorectal Surgeons
  • Team of almost 50 physicians and more than 50 years of experience
  • Research and phase 1-3 drug trial participation
  • Convenient locations
  • Financial guidance
  • Support groups and education
  • Hospital affiliations

Choosing an Independent Cancer Provider

As an independent practice, Maryland Oncology Hematology is proud to offer patients increased access to integrated, evidence-based cancer care and clinical research throughout the communities of Maryland. When compared to oncology services at big hospitals, independent cancer centers are typically more conveniently located, more individualized, and more likely to offer all necessary services under one roof. Independent cancer centers are also more cost effective for patients.

At MOH, our state-of-the-art infusion centers offer a full range of chemotherapy services, laboratory testing, clinical trials, and support services, provided by people who have an unwavering commitment to achieving the best possible result.

Our providers also have the freedom to choose the best possible specialists and hospital services for our patients, as well as arranging referrals for additional consultation or specialty care when needed. We ensure that our patients receive the best care based on each person’s unique diagnosis and treatment needs.

Maryland Oncology Hematology is able to offer cutting edge and innovative clinical research trials without the delays that many hospitals face. In partnership with US Oncology Network, MOH is able to unite the practice with more than 1,380 independent physicians dedicated to delivering value-based, integrated care to patients. These independent doctors come together to form a community of shared expertise and resources dedicated to advancing local cancer care and to delivering better patient outcomes.

Benefits to Patients

At Maryland Oncology Hematology, we strive to help patients through positive patient-doctor relationships while utilizing the latest in advanced technology. Other benefits include:

Better Access and Convenience

Community facilities offer integrated care close to home meaning there is less travel for patients. This provides reduced ER visits, admissions, and overnight hospital stays because of the proximity to care. At community cancer care clinics, patients receive treatments from one care team. In the hospital setting, patients are likely to see a different doctor and nurse throughout treatment.

Personalized Medicine

Our team utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, combined with the most advanced treatments, cutting-edge technologies, and clinical trials research program. This includes precision medicine based on the genetic profile of a patient or their specific diseases. Molecular testing can be used to help target cancer treatments, as well as improve accuracy of a diagnosis in complex cases or help patients learn if there is a risk of cancer that runs in their families.

Immediate Appointments

At Maryland Oncology Hematology, we offer immediate appointments to newly referred patients, ensuring they get the care they need without stressful and unnecessary delays they might otherwise experience in major hospital systems. Our team will schedule a consult with one of our experts who can provide guidance and treatment options, as well as address any patient and family member concerns.

Community care offers patients:

  • Shorter wait times
  • Easily accessible surface parking and patient drop-offs
  • Less likelihood of catching infection associated with hospital visits
  • Access to support services, including social workers, financial assistance, and reimbursement specialists
  • Access to groundbreaking clinical trials
  • Lower cost of care across all cancer types when compared to hospital settings[1]

“We’re grateful to have the privilege to bring remarkable cancer care advances to our patients, as well as offer therapies that can improve their quality of life,” said Dr. Jason Taksey. “At MOH Annapolis, we are excited to offer superior care options for our patients and our surrounding community.”


About Maryland Oncology Hematology


Maryland Oncology Hematology (MOH) is the largest independent oncology practice in the state of Maryland with locations in Annapolis, Bethesda, Brandywine, Clinton, Columbia, Frederick, Germantown, Lanham, Laurel, Mt. Airy, Rockville and the White Oak Cancer Center in Silver Spring. Our more than 40 physicians are devoted exclusively to providing comprehensive, compassionate, and high-quality cancer care. For more information, visit


Media Contact

Company Name: Maryland Oncology Hematology

Contact Person: Mark W Lamplugh Jr

Email: Send Email

Phone: 5617629729

Country: United States





COVID-19 Vaccine and Cancer: What you need to know

The Coronavirus: Did we need a vaccine?

Every aspect of the Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic has occurred at record speeds, from disease transmission to vaccine development. COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, targets the respiratory system. Most people experience flu-like symptoms; however, in the elderly and those with comorbidities, mild respiratory issues can quickly progress to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, resulting in multiple organ failure and death.

The highly contagious nature of this virus, which is spread through droplets and aerosols released when an infected person sneezes or coughs, is evident by the fact that over 106 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide. Over 2.35 million people have already succumb to the virus1–3.

The limitations of hospital capacity, ventilators, and healthcare personnel have been constant concerns throughout this pandemic. Worldwide regulations promoting social distancing and hygiene have prevented transmission, but they have also crippled the economy and stifled social freedoms1,2.

The overwhelming nature of this pandemic has led to the development of COVID-19 vaccines within an unprecedented timeframe. Despite the relief that this brings to some, many are concerned about the effects of the vaccine. A poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs research reported that of the 20% of Americans that did not want the COVID-19 vaccine, 70% were concerned about side effects4. Furthermore, the speed with which the COVID-19 vaccines were developed have left many questioning whether proper precautions and protocols are still being implemented. The Food and Drug Association (FDA) has stated that vaccine production will be in accordance with legal and regulatory guidelines5.

A cancer patient, who’s immune system is likely compromised by the effects of chemotherapy, would be understandably concerned about the virus and possible risks associated with the vaccine. This article aims to provide insight into the COVID-19 vaccine, concerns for cancer patients, and recommendations of healthcare professionals.

The COVID-19 vaccine: development, efficacy, and side effects

A vaccine is considered effective when it reduces the infection rate,  disease severity, or disease transmission. One of the main goals of a vaccination strategy is to create herd immunity, which is a large population of people that are immune to a specific disease6. With the aid of new vaccine development technologies, human clinical trials for the first potential COVID-19 vaccine began on March 16th 2020, just 4 months following the outbreak7. On February 10th 2021, the New York Times Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker reported that 69 COVID-19 vaccines were in the human clinical trial phase8.

Vaccine development was previously a 10-15 year process, and had the COVID-19 vaccines been made in this manner, scientists would still be the exploratory phase of the development process9. Soon after the COVID-19 outbreak in China, scientists unraveled the genetic code for SARS-CoV-2, which serves as the blueprint for the virus’s structure10.Then, by studying the virus’s structure, a protein called the spike protein was found on the outer surface of SARS-CoV-2. Researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 uses the spike protein to bind to and enter human cells, where it can replicate and cause sickness11. The spike protein is now the main target for COVID-19 vaccines12.

Traditionally, vaccines contained a weak or inactivated form of a virus that would allow the body to train against a weakened opponent so it would be better prepared to fight the same virus during an actual infection13. The COVID-19 vaccine was developed using RNA technology, an idea that was introduced in the 90’s by French researchers14. An RNA vaccine contains an mRNA sequence, which is simply a refined version of the blueprint used to build a particular protein. Once in the body, cells can process this code to produce the protein. If this is a viral protein, the body recognizes it as foreign, and the immune system is trained to eliminate it. Some COVID-19 vaccines introduce the code for the spike protein so that the body will be trained to fight it when presented with the actual virus13. Two of the leading COVID-19 vaccines, BNT162b2 Pfizer-BioNTech and mRNA-1273 Moderna, which have been approved for emergency use in the U.S. and E.U., are mRNA vaccines that target this spike protein8,15. COVID-19 vaccines may require periodic updates, similar to the Influenza vaccine, in order to accommodate mutations16.

The Centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) reports a 94.1% efficacy with the Moderna vaccine based on 1 large Phase III clinical trial with 30,000 participants aged 18-95 that had not previously tested positive for COVID-19. Systemic adverse effects, described as mild to moderate, were more common after the 2nd dose. These effects were more severe in patients under 6517. Pain, swelling, and redness were reported as localized reactogenicity symptoms, while chills, fatigue, and headaches were listed as systemic adverse effects18. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the Moderna vaccine is safe in patients with comorbidities, such as hypertension or diabetes, and chronic infections, provided that their condition is stable and controlled. Due to the possibility of severe allergic reactions, vaccinees must be monitored for 15 minutes after administration. They also report that the effect on immunocompromised people has not been properly investigated. Persons who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 are not deterred from getting vaccinated, but are advised to wait 6 months19.


Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine require 2 doses for maximal efficacy. The New England Journal of Medicine reported 95% efficacy in persons that received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 52% efficacy is expected after the 1st dose20. A recent report from Israel described a 33% reduction in COVID-19 cases after the first dose. It is important to consider that the Israeli report is based on persons over 60 years, whereas the original Pfizer study included young people as well21. The Pfizer Emmergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet reports similar side effects to that of Moderna, and immunocompromised patients are asked to report their conditions beforehand22.

Female doctor showing two coronavirus vaccine options


The COVID-19 vaccine: considerations for cancer patients

Due to the heterogeneity in cancer patients, there has been some debate as to whether they should be considered a high-risk group. Morbidity and mortality rates between 5 and 61% have been reported in cancer patients that contract COVID-1923. The immunosuppressive effect of many cancer treatments make cancer patients more susceptible to infection. One literature review reported that 10/11 studies in COVID-19 patients reported higher fatalities in patients that also had cancer, especially hematological cancers. Such data argues that cancer patients should be also receive priority vaccination23,24.


Data concerning the effect of the COVID-19 vaccine in cancer patients is very scarce. Of the nearly 44,000 participants in the Pfizer clinical trial only 3.7% were cancer patients23. The immunosuppression in cancer patients caused by chemotherapy, radiation, and/or targeted therapy is also expected to reduce the efficacy of the vaccine. The goal of a vaccination is to elicit an immune response that will train the immune system to fight against a particular disease. A weakened immune system is less likely to respond to this challenge and may therefore be incapable of being trained25. Some have tried to compare the COVID-19 vaccine to the Influenza vaccine; however, studies reporting the vaccine efficacy in cancer patients who received the flu vaccine show that the outcome depends on the cancer type and treatment26–28.

Dr. Nora Disis, a medical oncologist and the director of the Institute of Translational Health and the Cancer Vaccine Institute at the University of Washington, suggests that vaccine dosage and the timing are points of concern, especially in patients in active treatment. She also suggested that cancer patients avoid vaccinations containing an active form of the virus as this could lead to infection in immunocompromised patients29.



Recommendations and reminders for cancer patients

Currently, no COVID-19 vaccines containing live virus have been approved for administration, therefore there should be no risk of becoming infected by the vaccine itself29. As studies of the vaccine in cancer patients are lacking, it is uncertain if cancer patients are susceptible to side effects other than those reported in the general population. The overall recommendation for cancer patients is to receive the vaccine as the risk of contracting the virus is far greater than the possibility of the vaccine being less effective30. We recommend that patients actively on treatment discuss with their oncologist the timing of vaccine administration.


Dr. Jeffrey Farma, a surgical oncologist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Pennsylvania, recommends that cancer patients with upcoming surgeries schedule enough time between surgery and the vaccination. Furthermore, patients that have undergone a bone marrow transplant should consult with their hematologist to determine when their immune system will be able to respond to the vaccine. All cancer patients or survivors should consult with their physicians before getting vaccinated31.


Time will tell if current COVID-19 vaccines provide long-term protection and whether they are effective against new variants. Therefore, the advice given to all vaccination recipients is to continue adhering to social distancing and hygiene regulations. Cancer patients, especially, should continue to protect themselves from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 and any other diseases32,33.



Dr Juneja joins Maryland Oncology Hematology’s White Oak Cancer Center after 13 years of practice in Northern Virginia and Bethesda.  He has subspecialized in breast, gastrointestinal, lymphoma, and myeloma in his prior practices. He is very interested in clinical research and cutting edge as well as precision medicine. Previously, he has designed clinical trials with Bristol Myers Squibb, been a medical officer at the FDA, and has been an investigator in several clinical trials.

Having survived cancer himself, he completely understands what it is like to be a patient. He lives with his wife, 2 children, dog, and enjoys playing piano, tennis, running, bicycling, and sailing.




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Eating Healthy Really Can Prevent Cancer

Did you know that eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important way to protect yourself from cancer? Putting the right kinds of food into your body can provide you with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to keep you healthy and strong. To help build your defense against cancer, focus on eating some of these cancer-fighting foods that may already be in your kitchen.

Foods That Help Fight Cancer

The National Cancer Institute does not recommend any dietary supplement for the prevention or treatment of cancer. However these foods have shown potential for reducing the risk of developing cancer due to their cancer-fighting properties.

Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy green vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, while remaining very low in calories, sodium, and fat. Greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, swiss chard, leaf lettuce, and romaine lettuce, are known to combat a variety of cancers including skin cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, and breast cancer. Because they are also rich in carotenoids, the plant pigments that act as antioxidants in the body, leafy greens are also thought to be good at battling cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, radishes, and even wasabi, contain fiber, folate and vitamins C, E, and K. They also get their strong smell and bitter flavor from substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals. Adding vegetables like these to your diet can help boost your body’s protective enzymes and flush out cancer-causing chemicals.

Cruciferous veggies are considered to be most useful in reducing the risk of developing bladder cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, prostate, skin cancer, and breast cancer.


Garlic is a staple ingredient that has been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes around the world. Protective effects from garlic may arise from its antibacterial properties or from its ability to block the formation of cancer-causing substances, enhance DNA repair, reduce cell proliferation, or induce cell death. Garlic is most useful in fighting against breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, and stomach cancer.

Most people take garlic in the form of a supplement rather than eating bulbs of garlic. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines for general health promotion for adults is one of the following:

  • a daily dose of 2 to 5 g of fresh garlic (approximately one clove)
  • 0.4 to 1.2 g of dried garlic powder
  • 2 to 5 mg of garlic oil
  • 300 to 1,000 mg of garlic extract
  • or other formulations that are equal to 2 to 5 mg of allicin


While tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins C and A, it’s the lycopene, the pigment that gives red tomatoes their color, that has been studied for its cancer-fighting effects. Antioxidants, such as lycopene, destroy damaging free radicals, which can attach your your cells and hurt your immune system. Although the evidence suggests that foods containing lycopene, including tomatoes, likely offer cancer protection, the American Institute for Cancer Research stresses the importance of eating a variety of plant foods. No single food can effectively lower cancer risk, so it is important to eat a variety of healthy foods so you can gain the most benefit in fighting cancer.

Lycopene in tomatoes is believe to be most helpful in fighting endometrial cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer.


Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and berries of every color are good sources of vitamin C and fiber. They are also rich in antioxidants and ellagic acid, which help block free radicals and deactivate specific carcinogens (cancer causing agents) that can lead to cancer growth. Berries have been found to be useful in fighting colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, skin cancer, and oral cancer.

These are just a handful of foods that will help you maintain an overall healthy diet which is recommended to fight cancer. To learn more about what foods make for healthy choices, you can visit the American Cancer Society’s Basic Ingredients for a Healthy Kitchen. Consume all things in moderation, even healthy foods, and include a wide variety of healthy foods in your daily intake, not just those listed here.

Foods That Can Cause Cancer

Animal Fats

Not all meats and dairy products are bad for you, however, the ones that contain saturated fats can be. Consider choosing low-fat versions of meats and cheeses, and steer clear of processed meats whenever you can which tend to be higher in fat, nitrates and other preservatives.


The less alcohol you drink, the lower the risk of cancer. It doesn’t matter whether it’s beer, wine, or spirits–too much alcohol can impair your body’s ability to fight disease. The National Cancer Institute recommends that women have no more than one drink per day and men have no more than two drinks per day. Excessive alcohol consumption can put you at an increased risk of mouth cancer, esophagus cancer, breast cancer, and liver cancer.

Charred Meats

When high-temperature methods, such as grilling, are used to cook meats like beef, pork, fish, and poultry, certain DNA-damaging chemicals, called HCAs and PAHs can form. Although it is still unclear whether such exposure causes cancer in humans, the cancer that it has been found to cause in animals indicates that it may be best to avoid foods that are highly charred (black from heat exposure).

There are many other foods that researchers are still studying to determine whether they may contribute to the development of cancer or help reduce your risk of cancer. If you have questions regarding how to prevent cancer, it’s best to consult your doctor. The team at Maryland Oncology Hematology is always ready to help patients find healthy food options they can enjoy both now and after cancer treatment. For more information, contact us, or visit us at one of our 12 locations including Annapolis,  Bethesda, Brandywine, Clinton, Columbia, Frederick, Lanham, Laurel, Mt. Airy, Rockville at Aquilino Cancer Center and Silver Spring at White Oak Cancer Center.

For more information on cancer prevention you can visit the following blogs:



Maryland Oncology Hematology Welcomes Colette Magnant, MD, FACS to Their Expanding Breast Surgical Oncology Team

Dr. Magnant joins Dr. Surupa Sen Gupta at their Rockville Division to offer the community advanced surgical care with the latest breast preservation techniques.

Maryland Oncology Hematology  (MOH), the largest independent oncology practice in Maryland and a member of The US Oncology Network, is proud to announce that Dr. Colette Magnant, MD, FACS is joining its Rockville division.

Dr. Magnant has been treating breast cancer for over 34 years and has established herself as one of the premier breast cancer surgeons in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  With her extensive training and wealth of experience, she provides her patients with a superior understanding of breast cancer biology, as well as compassionate state of the art breast preservation procedures, and advanced surgical techniques. She will be joining Dr. Surupa Sen Gupta to expand our breast surgical oncology services at our Rockville division, and together they, along with our expert and experienced medical oncologists, will anchor our comprehensive breast cancer program in the Rockville division.

‘We’re thrilled to welcome Dr. Magnant  to our experienced breast surgical team. Her stellar reputation as a top breast surgeon is well-deserved and we are fortunate that she has decided to bring her skills to our practice and to our community.  She shares our vision of providing state-of-the-art multidisciplinary cancer care, and we are delighted to have her join in our expansion said George Sotos MD, Managing Partner, Rockville Division. ‘With her focus and strong surgical experience in breast cancer treatment, Dr. Magnant is a welcome addition to our team as we dedicate our practice to delivering the very best in comprehensive and integrated care to our breast cancer patients.

Dr. Magnant is board certified in general surgery, specializing in advanced breast surgery techniques, including skin and nipple-sparing mastectomies and minimally invasive breast conserving surgeries. After earning her medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Dr. Magnant completed her general surgery internship at Indiana University Medical Center and her residency at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC. She is most recently the past director of the Sullivan Center for Breast Health at Sibley Hospital, as well as an assistant professor at John Hopkins University. In addition to teaching, Dr. Magnant has made numerous media appearances and delivered dozens of university lectures.

‘I’m proud to work alongside the dynamic team at Maryland Oncology Hematology, said Dr. Magnant. ‘We’re dedicated to delivering compassionate and comprehensive breast health services to the surrounding community, allowing our patients to receive the best of care, close to home.

Dr. Magnant will be joining Dr. Sen Gupta who is board certified in general surgery, fellowship trained in breast surgical oncology, and specializes in minimally invasive breast-conserving surgeries.

Dr. Magnant will start seeing patients at MOH’s Rockville office on April 1st. Appointments are available for newly referred patients to provide a high level of support and easy access to care. Please call 301.424.6231 to make an appointment.

About Maryland Oncology Hematology

Maryland Oncology Hematology (MOH) is the largest independent oncology practice in the state of Maryland, with more than 45 practicing clinicians devoted exclusively to providing comprehensive, compassionate, and high-quality cancer care. MOH specializes in medical, gynecologic, hematology, cancer genetic risk assessment, clinical trials and research, and patient ancillary programs. MOH believes it is beneficial to provide cancer therapies in a community setting, close to patients’ homes and support systems. The physicians are supported by a talented clinical team sensitive to the needs of cancer patients and their caregivers. For more information, visit

About US Oncology Network

Maryland Oncology Hematology is a practice in The US Oncology Network  (The Network). This collaboration unites the practice with more than 1,380 independent physicians dedicated to delivering value-based, integrated care to patients — close to home. Through The Network, these independent doctors come together to form a community of shared expertise and resources dedicated to advancing local cancer care and to delivering better patient outcomes. The Network is supported by McKesson Corporation , whose coordinated resources and infrastructure allow doctors in The Network to focus on the health of their patients, while McKesson focuses on the health of their practices. MOH also participates in clinical trials through US Oncology Research, which has played a role in more than 100 FDA-approved cancer therapies.


Media Contact
Company Name: Maryland Oncology Hematology
Contact Person: Mark W Lamplugh Jr
Email: Send Email
Phone: 5617629729
Country: United States



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