As a young doctor who did his internship, residency and then fellowship in hematology and oncology all at Tufts School of Medicine in Boston, one might have expected Dr. Benjamin Newton to spend his career in “Bean Town.”
But as a native of Warren, CT, in the state’s rural northwestern corner, Dr. Newton was eager for a change.
“I loved my experience in Boston, so much so that I stayed for 10 years,” he says. “But I was looking for something different and was thinking about raising a family. I was looking for a community where I could continue to practice cutting-edge medicine but in a slightly different environment than the big city.”
The answer to Dr. Newton’s personal and professional dilemma turned out to be New London and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.
“It’s a great area,” says Dr. Newton, who now lives in Old Saybrook with his wife and 3-year-old daughter. “This area is full of wonderful communities and the hospital is great. It’s a very supportive and collegial environment. The practice that I am a part of is outstanding, and when I decided to come here I thought it was a great opportunity to continue advancing in my field.”
In fact, Dr. Newton couldn’t have imagined just how good his opportunity to excel in his field would turn out to be. Today, he stands ready to be an integral part of the cancer-fighting team when the new state-of-the-art L+M Cancer Center opens next year near Interstate 95 in Waterford. The L+M Cancer Center will be partnering with the Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, giving Dr. Newton the chance to provide world-class care in a community setting.
“I’m very excited about this outstanding opportunity,” he says. “Dana-Farber is a premier academic institution, and L+M is devoted to the advancement of cancer care in southeastern Connecticut and to its community. It’s a great match.”
What excites Dr. Newton the most is that he will be able to offer to his patients the chance to take part in cancer programs that will not be available anywhere else in the region, such as clinical trials.
“I’m particularly interested in providing oncology care in a more comprehensive setting where we have a lot of additional ancillary services, and a big part of that will be clinical trials,” he says.
“Clinical trial participation has always been very important in oncology, and, in many cases, patients have had to travel long distances, such as to Boston, to participate in clinical trials,” Dr. Newton says. “I expect and hope that this will be a way for people to have that high level of access to cancer treatment without having to travel.”
A clinical trial generally involves the use of a drug or a drug regimen that potentially offers benefits to patients but has not yet been approved for general use by the Federal Drug Administration.
“My hope is to be able to offer a range of clinical trials,” Dr. Newton says. “It’s a way of practicing even closer to the cutting edge of cancer care.”
Of course, Dr. Newton also believes that prevention is a key to fighting cancer.
“I encourage everyone to talk with their primary care doctor about the tests available that can screen patients for certain types of cancers,” he says. “Screenings can help identify cancers of the colon, the skin, the prostate and the breast. It is disheartening to realize that a simple test might have prevented a disease from reaching a stage where it becomes life threatening.”
Dr. Newton has one other bit of advice: don’t smoke!
“Avoiding cigarettes is the most fundamental lifestyle advice I can offer. If you are a smoker, talk to your primary care doctor about ways to successfully quit smoking,” he said. “If you have already tried, don’t lose heart, try again. I see so many cases of lung cancer and other cancers that are tied to tobacco use. Certainly, nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on Earth, but if there is any way to get away from it, it’s worth it.”
When he’s not on the job, Dr. Newton says that he enjoys travel and spending time with family and friends. But he makes it very clear that he loves his work and that he takes it very seriously.
“I think oncologists have a unique opportunity to connect with people at a time of great need,” he says. “I feel it’s an honor and privilege to be able to do that, and I’m very happy to be here.”
To learn more about Dr. Newton, click here.