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August 1, 2023 Press


Hunterdon Hematology Oncology and Hunterdon Health Present “Oncology Focused Advance Care Planning” with Dr. Varun Doddapaneni, Medical Director of Hunterdon Palliative Care & Center for Health Aging

Flemington, NJ – Hunterdon Hematology Oncology and Hunterdon Health are pleased to announce an educational community event, “Oncology Focused Advance Care Planning,” hosted by Dr. Varun Doddapaneni, the Medical Director of Hunterdon Palliative Care & Center for Health Aging. The event will be held on Thursday, September 14, 2023 at 6:00 PM in the Hunterdon Medical Center Auditorium, located at 2100 Wescott Drive, Flemington, NJ 08822.

The event will provide an opportunity for active cancer patients, cancer survivors, caregivers, family, and friends to come together for an informative discussion on advance care planning specifically tailored to the oncology population. The presentation will focus on the importance of discussing healthcare decisions, and how such conversations can provide both guidance and peace of mind for patients and their loved ones. Dr. Varun Doddapaneni, a renowned expert in palliative care and advance care planning, will share valuable insights and practical tips on how to have these crucial conversations.

“We understand that discussing healthcare decisions can be challenging, especially for those facing cancer, and we are excited to provide this educational opportunity to our community,” said Dr. Varun Doddapaneni. “Our goal is to offer resources and support to empower patients and their families to proactively plan for their future healthcare needs, ensuring that their wishes are respected and honored. This is an essential part of providing comprehensive oncology care.”

The event is open to the public, and registration is encouraged. To register, please email

The event will be held in the Hunterdon Medical Center Auditorium, a spacious and comfortable venue that allows for adequate physical distancing. As the safety and well-being of attendees are a top priority, wearing face masks is highly recommended. 

About Hunterdon Hematology Oncology

Hunterdon Hematology Oncology is a community oncology practice providing compassionate and comprehensive care to patients with cancer and blood disorders. Our team of experienced physicians, nurses, and staff are committed to providing personalized care to each and every patient, utilizing the latest treatments and therapies to ensure the best possible outcomes. We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of various cancers and blood disorders, including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, breast cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer, among others.

At Hunterdon Hematology Oncology, we understand that a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, and our team is dedicated to supporting our patients through every step of their journey. We strive to provide a supportive and caring environment where patients and their families can feel comfortable and confident in their care.

Our practice is located in Flemington, New Jersey, and is affiliated with the Hunterdon Medical Center, a nationally recognized hospital that provides a range of medical services to the local community. We are proud to serve our community and to provide exceptional care to those in need.

For more information about Hunterdon Hematology Oncology, please visit our website at

Contact: Hunterdon Hematology Oncology
Phone: 1-908-237-1201


June 23, 2020 Press

Congratulations Dr. Shah! We are excited to announce that our very own, Dr. Megha Shah, has been published in the Journal Of Endocrine Health. This article contains information regarding the SAT-358 Hypercalcemia-Induced Altered Mental Status as the Primary Manifestation of Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma. If you are interested in learning more, read the article here.


May 21, 2019 Press

Providing the highest-quality cancer care in a compassionate manner is a top priority of Dr. Myron Bednar. Board certified in medical oncology, hematology and internal medicine, he actively participates in cancer research trials and is committed to bringing patients new and innovative investigational treatments. Dr. Bednar is currently excited to participate in MATCH, a national clinical study in which cancer-fighting drugs are assigned based on the specific mutations present in a patient’s tumors.

He offers a variety of options on-site, from radiation to infusion-based and oral chemotherapy, as well as immune-based therapy, which stimulates a patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells. Read more.


May 21, 2019 Press

Dr. Kenneth B. Blankstein, an oncologist in Flemington, N.J., is treating a woman for lung cancer. She responded well to the first chemotherapy drugs he prescribed. When her health was stable, he gave her a “temporary break” from chemo to spare her some of its side effects.

But when he tried to return her to the treatment, the insurer balked, saying that the “temporary break” was evidence that the treatment had failed. Despite Blankstein’s protests, the insurer said she would have to move next to Tarceva, another treatment.

“She had under a 5 percent chance of a response on Tarceva,” he said. “Yet they insisted, so we had to.”

As Blankstein expected, the patient did not respond, but instead of letting her return to the first chemo cocktail, the insurer insisted she try another drug first.

The patient ultimately switched to Medicare, which covered the first chemotherapy protocol. Her health is stable.

“The patient’s being told to use a drug we know isn’t going to work, but we have to use it anyway for someone with terminal illness? To me that’s just insane, but it’s the way they do things,” Blankstein said. “It’s taken away clinical judgment. It’s managing by algorithms.” Read the whole article.


January 3, 2015 Press

By Martta Kelly | Special to The Star-Ledger

Lung cancer patient Daria Shepherd smiles as she looks at her daughter, Paige, Shepherd as Daria receives a new trial cancer treatment called Nivolumab at the Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center in Flemington. (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

Lung cancer patient Daria Shepherd smiles as she looks at her daughter, Paige, Shepherd as Daria receives a new trial cancer treatment called Nivolumab at the Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center in Flemington. (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

A routine ultrasound last year turned out to be something much more sinister for Daria Shepherd of Kingwood Township.

“I had this pain in my right side and I thought it was just the result of overdoing it,” said the active 47-year-old mother of two who enjoys jogging regularly with her 22-year-old daughter.

When her blood tests came back normal and physical therapy didn’t seem to be helping, her doctor ordered the ultrasound.
Shepherd wasn’t prepared for what came next.

The ultrasound showed not only a benign cyst on her right ovary but spots on her lung as well. A subsequent chest scan and biopsy determined the spots indicated advanced lung cancer.

Shepherd started chemotherapy, but it proved to be ineffective for her type of cancer. Her doctor, Myron E. Bednar, medical oncologist at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center in Flemington, suggested she enroll in a clinical trial for a new drug called Nivolumab, which works with the patient’s own immune system to attack cancer cells. In addition, the drug doesn’t have the debilitating side effects of traditional chemotherapy, such as nausea, fatigue and hair loss.

Oncologist Myron Bednar checks on Daria Shepherd as she receives Nivolumab at the Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center. (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

Lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, is the second most common cancer among men and women and the leading cause of death in the United States. It is estimated that this year, more than 224,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer.

HRCC was selected as the only cancer facility in New Jersey to offer a clinical study on Nivolumab, which is made by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The closest facility outside the tri-state area is in Tennessee. There are currently eight people in the clinical trial at HRCC.

To be eligible for the clinical trial, patients must have been diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer and have undergone at least one therapy prior to entering the trial, Bednar said.

Nivolumab works by blocking a molecule called PD-L1, found in many cancer cells, from binding to a protein called PD-1, found on the surface of T-cells, known as the “fighter cells” of the immune system, said Kenneth B. Blankstein, an oncologist at HRCC.

If PD-L1 is allowed to bind to PD-1, T-cells become ineffective, Blankstein explained. This is how cancer cells are able to disarm T-cells and inhibit them from attacking the tumor. Since PD-1 blockers free up the immune system only around the tumor rather than throughout the whole body, they also have fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

“Drugs such as Nivolumab that inhibit PD-1 may also be able to treat a variety of cancers, including melanoma, which is very exciting.” Blankstein added.
Both Bednar and Blankstein stressed that while Nivolumab, like chemotherapy, is not a cure, it appears to improve the overall survival of cancer patients.

“We’re are optimistic about the results of the trial so far,” Bednar said. “We’ve had a 30 percent response rate, which, in this group, is significant.”

To date, Shepherd has had three infusion treatments and feels wonderful. She is scheduled to have a CAT scan every eight weeks to see how things are responding. “I have not had any side effects whatsoever,” she said. “I have been able to go on with my life and to do the things I love, such as fishing and jogging.”

Anyone interested in becoming part of this clinical trial should call Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center, (908)-788-6461, and ask to speak with Kathy Robbins, a clinical research nurse. If it is determined that you are eligible, she will set up an appointment with one of center’s four oncologists.

About HHO

Hunterdon Hematology Oncology is a community oncology group, dedicated to fighting cancer in this community and across the region. Our Doctors, Physician’s Assistants and Nurses work tirelessly. They fight hard so that you can win.


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