CURE spoke with an expert from Mount Sinai to discuss the future of ovarian cancer treatment and his advice for women facing a new diagnosis.
As the fifth leading cause of death among women in the US, ovarian cancer awareness is recognized in the month of September to educate the public on symptoms, risks and treatment options.
CURE spoke with Dr. Konstantin Zakashansky, director of gynecologic oncology at Mount Sinai West and associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, about the future of ovarian cancer treatment and his advice for women facing a new diagnosis.
What can women look forward to moving forward in the ovarian cancer space?
A lot of different drugs and combinations of those drugs. The biggest change is really sort of individualization of therapy. Doing tumor profiling and extensive genetic testing, hopefully, we're really trying to narrow down and figure out which patient is going to respond to which drug. Before, we didn't have this problem since we only had a couple of drugs that we used for everybody. There was almost no point of getting the molecular genetics or the actual biology of the individual tumor cell. So now, with the tremendous amount of different drugs, we can see if we can figure out who is going to respond to which drug, we can actually offer something different for each person based on their specific unique biology.
What is your biggest piece of advice for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer?
It's really important to get to an oncologist that treats a lot of other cancers, whether it's at an institution or individual practice — an oncologist with significant experience. It is important to obtain a number of consultations. Now, more than before, we're using a multidisciplinary approach. Before starting any kind of therapy, patients should ensure that they're seeking consultation with numerous medical oncologists.
Patients need to have that information, whether (their treatment plan includes) chemotherapy or surgery and chemotherapy. Medical oncologists will figure out what should come first (in treatment), as we face this more complex landscape of different therapeutic options. That is why it is becoming more and more important to see is an expert in the field and also get maybe get one, two or three opinions before making the final decision.
Is there anything we did not touch upon that our audience should know more about?
In general, it is a very exciting time for ovarian cancer. During my fellowship 12 years ago, there was no conversation about treatment options. Now, more and more patients have options. There was no conversation about maintenance therapy, nobody wanted to hear about it. And it was considered to be you know, complete nonsense. Now it's really the strategy that has given us the best outcomes. We're very excited about the future of ovarian cancer. I cannot wait to see what what's on the horizon.