Written By Lisa Buffington
On December 16, 2019, the Torrance Memorial Donald & Priscilla Hunt
Cancer Center officially opened its doors. Now, one year later, the Hunt
Cancer Center has established itself as a community cancer care focal
point, providing state-of-the-art, comprehensive treatment for South Bay
residents. Designed with patients in mind, the light-filled Hunt Cancer
Center brings expertise, patient convenience and state-of-the-art treatments
into one location.
A Partnership for Advanced Care
Torrance Memorial’s partnership with Cedars-Sinai brings more cancer
experts to the South Bay, providing patients with access to the expertise
of renowned cancer leaders from one of the nation’s premier academic
“Cancer experts from Torrance Memorial and Cedars-Sinai hold meetings
for specific cancer types to discuss patient care and ensure everyone
is up to date on the latest clinical trials, guidelines, treatments and
technology,” said Dr. Andrew Horodner, a hematologist/oncologist
at the Hunt Cancer Institute. “That means South Bay residents have
access to the most advanced cancer treatments and clinical trials right
at their doorstep.”
Hunt Cancer Institute specialists also participate in multidisciplinary
tumor boards, including tumor boards specific to breast, gastrointestinal,
lung and brain tumors. Tumor boards allow physicians across multiple specialty
areas to collaborate on each patient’s case. That means every patient
receives opinions from multiple specialists — including pathologists,
medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, geneticists and more.
“Our patients find it reassuring to know their case was presented
at tumor board, where a variety of specialists will look at it from the
perspective of their area of expertise,” said Dr. Vanessa Dickey,
a hematologist/oncologist at the Hunt Cancer Institute. “Not every
cancer center has this level of collaboration and connectivity.”
“Our patients get a second, third, and fourth opinion — and
sometimes more — without having to go anywhere else,” said
Convenient, Coordinated Care
The Hunt Cancer Center is located on the Torrance Memorial Medical Center
campus, providing patients with convenient access to comprehensive cancer care.
“The minute we find something suspicious, our patients are immediately
assigned to a nurse navigator, who can often coordinate an emergency appointment
with one of our specialists or an imaging test right next door,”
said Dr. Dickey. “It’s one thing to find out bad news, but
it’s another to find out bad news without a plan.”
“Our nurse navigators are such an important part of our program,”
said Dr. Horodner. “They not only get patients where they need to
go, but they are also advocates who ensure each patient has the information
and education they need.”
In addition to nurse navigators and a full range of cancer care clinicians,
patients also have access to a geneticist who can provide onsite genetic
counseling and a licensed clinical social worker who can connect them
with resources and support. Along with standard treatment methods, patients
have access to integrative medicine modalities such as aromatherapy, yoga
breathing and positioning techniques, and an oncology-trained dietitian.
These therapies link together to treat the patient’s overall body,
mind and spirit.
More Space, Enhanced Safety
During COVID-19, cancer care at Torrance Memorial Medical Center has never
The spacious,40,000-square-foot Hunt Cancer Center allows clinicians to
safely treat patients while adhering to social distancing guidelines —
which is especially crucial for patients receiving cancer treatment that
could weaken their immune system.
“In our infusion suite, our patients are 12 feet apart instead of
six feet, which makes people feel safe,” said Dr. Dickey. “We
are also able to stagger lab appointments and develop pathways to minimize
contact between patients.”
The additional space also allows patients to be accompanied by a support
person during appointments and treatment sessions, significantly reducing
stress and improving well-being. “We haven’t missed one day
due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Dickey. “You can’t close
down with cancer.”
‘More Than Just A Job’
Although the Hunt Cancer Center is a beautiful building, it’s the
team approach to treatment and the patient-physician partnerships that
make it such a presence in the South Bay.
“All the physicians live in the South Bay, and we are committed to
supporting our community. It’s more than a job. It’s really
personal to us,” said Dr. Dickey. “Plus, it’s nice for
patients not to have to brave those freeways to get the latest cancer
“I’m proud to be a part of the Hunt Cancer Institute, and I’m
honored our patients put their faith in us to deliver quality cancer care
close to home,” said Dr. Horodner.
Collaboration Brings Leading-Edge Clinical Trials to Hunt Cancer Center
The Hunt Cancer Institute is currently offering several clinical trials
for various cancer types, including pancreatic, lung, lymphoma, and breast
cancer. According to Dr. Swati Sikaria, a hematologist/oncologist at the
Hunt Cancer Institute, the organization sources some of the most promising
clinical trials through partnerships with Cedars-Sinai, UCLA TRIO-US Network,
and pharmaceutical companies.
“We look at the available clinical trials and choose the best ones
for our patient population,” said Dr. Sikaria.
For example, because breast cancer is the No. 1 diagnosis at the Hunt Cancer
Center, the team can select the breast cancer clinical trials that provide
the most benefit to the South Bay community.
According to Dr. Sikaria, the Hunt Cancer Institute is opening a liquid
biopsy clinical trial for asymptomatic patients receiving screening mammograms.
The goal of the trial, she said, is to eventually develop a blood test
for breast cancer detection.
The team is also looking at combining novel immunotherapy with chemotherapy
treatments for breast cancer to improve cure rates, as well as interventions
“One of our clinical trials is looking at whether weight loss reduces
breast cancer recurrence risk,” said Dr. Sikaria.
The Hunt Cancer Institute is also conducting an open study for lymphoma
that looks at whether oral medications are more effective with fewer side
effects when compared to traditional chemotherapy.
“These are treatments many patients can only get at a National Cancer
Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center, and we provide them right here
in the South Bay,” said Dr. Sikaria.
Hunt Cancer Center is located at 3285 Skypark Dr., Torrance 90505. They can be reached at