OVARIAN CANCER IS THE NINTH most common cancer in women (not counting skin cancer) and ranks fifth as the cause of cancer death in women, according to the American Cancer Society. Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer found in American men and is the second leading cause of cancer death in men. One in six men will get prostate cancer and one in 36 will die of this disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Since September is National Ovarian Cancer and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, COMMERCE asked medical experts from New Jersey’s top hospitals to discuss today’s cutting-edge treatments and procedures.
CentraState Healthcare System
By Edward Soffen, M.D., Board-certified Radiation Oncologist
As radiation oncologists, for years we have been diligently trying to find a way to protect the rectum, which is located next to and touching the prostate, when treating men with prostate cancer. In the past, despite our best efforts with using technology, it was very difficult to deliver doses of radiation to the prostate and not affect the rectum. In 2014, I was selected to be a clinical trial leader in testing a spacer gel, called SpaceOAR, at CentraState. Now we can inject SpaceOAR into men prior to radiation treatment. This gel allows for a centimeter of space between the prostate and the rectum, which is all that is needed to safely deliver radiation to the prostate and dramatically reduce the side effects and risks to the rectum. It takes 10 minutes to 15 minutes to inject the gel, and we only need to use a local anesthesia. SpaceOAR is something that men undergoing radiation treatment for prostate cancer should know about and consider when getting treated. It’s an elegant, simple way to do something that we’ve tried to do for years.
Hackensack University Medical Center, John Theurer Cancer Center, Hackensack Meridian Health
By Ami P. Vaidya, M.D., Vice Chair, Dept. of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Co-Chief, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Director Robotics, Gynecology
At John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, we are taking a precision medicine approach to ovarian cancer treatment, offering patients anticancer drugs matched to the molecular abnormalities driving the growth of their cancers. For example, we use olaparib and rucaparib to treat women with advanced and recurrent ovarian cancer who have mutations in the BRCA genes. These drugs inhibit a protein called PARP, which helps cancer cells repair the damage done by chemotherapy, making them more vulnerable to treatment. Along with the latest PARP inhibitor approved by the FDA, niraparib, these medications represent a novel approach to treating metastatic ovarian cancer. John Theurer Cancer Center is offering women with ovarian cancer opportunities to participate in clinical trials of other PARP inhibitors, as well as immunotherapies and novel treatment combinations through studies sponsored by the national Gynecologic Oncology Group and other organizations—including Phase I trials, the earliest phase of a new drug’s assessment in patients. This approach is part of the Center’s commitment to providing care based on the latest medical advances. An all-female team of gynecologic oncologists meets regularly to choose each woman’s optimal treatment plan, using minimally invasive robotic surgery and offering fertility preservation where appropriate.
Holy Name Medical Center’s Regional Cancer Center
By Sharyn N. Lewin, M.D., Medical Director, Division of Gynecologic Oncology
Our gynecologic oncologists at the Holy Name Regional Cancer Center are skilled in utilizing state-of-the-art surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients with ovarian cancer. Almost all ovarian cancers initially require surgical treatment, which should be performed by a gynecologic oncologist with significant experience in this complex surgery. Combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy administered directly into the abdomen at the time of surgery and with infusion chemotherapy, this treatment protocol often leads to better survival rates. We are also learning through research that PARP inhibitors, a type of oral medication, can often successfully slow or halt disease progression.