I feel great when people tell me ‘I forgot that I had cancer.’ That always makes me smile, because that’s what we are really here to do.
David Andolino, MD is a radiation oncologist at St. Luke’s Cancer Center. A radiation oncologist treats cancer with radiation, usually in conjunction with a team of medical and surgical oncologists who fight cancer with surgery or chemotherapy. He cares for newly diagnosed cancer patients as well as patients whose cancer has become metastatic or has spread in other places in the body. His specialty is one part of the cancer-fighting team at St. Luke’s whose most basic function is to care for treat cancer patients.
Dr. Andolino always had an interest in science and biology, specifically cancer biology, so he knew early on that he wanted to be a doctor. During his undergraduate years, he worked in a radiation lab. But being in the lab didn’t suit all his strengths perfectly; he wanted to study cancer, but he also wanted to have patient interaction, which led him to pursue radiation oncology in a clinical setting. “I felt very strongly that I wanted to pursue a detail-oriented and technical discipline, but I wanted something that would give me pride in my work and an interpersonal aspect,” explains Dr. Andolino.
Working with patients to shed some light in a dark time appealed to Dr. Andolino’s desire to study and investigate cancer while directly caring for patients. So after completing medical school at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and his residencies at Indiana University Medical Center and The Mount Sinai Hospital, he eventually joined Advanced Radiation Oncology Associates at St. Luke’s Cancer Center.
“St. Luke’s was a perfect fit for me because they had a great reputation as a leader in cancer care,” says Dr. Andolino. “Plus, the administration, staff and other physicians all form this cohesive team with a common goal of providing patients with the best possible care.” When Dr. Andolino came to St. Luke’s, he was drawn its small community spirit. Even though the hospital has grown, he feels that the small community atmosphere remains because of the staff who care for patients like family. “Whether it’s someone who has been at St. Luke’s for 30 years or three years, everyone shares a pride about being a St. Luke’s employee,” shares Dr. Andolino. “That’s very rare and our patients definitely get a sense of that loyalty.”
Dr. Andolino is excited about what the future holds for his field. “I see medicine, especially cancer treatment, becoming more and more personalized and individualized for patients,” explains Dr. Andolino. “Therapies are getting more refined and effective, with considerably less side effects. If we can get to a place where patients can still function and enjoy their daily lives through treatment, it’s a huge step forward.”