Customizing cancer care at Chicago-area hospital
Unique approach: Dr. Mark Kozloff, oncologist/hematologist and medical director of Ingalls Cancer Care, said Ingalls looks to identify the unique cancer signature for each patient and design a customized plan of attack that fits them right down to the molecular level. | Supplied photo
A wave of new research is shifting the direction of cancer treatment away from a one-size-fits-all approach towards more tailored therapies based on a tumor’s genetic makeup. And the good news for residents of the south suburbs is that researchers at Ingalls Cancer Care are at the cutting edge of this promising trend.
“At Ingalls, we work to identify the unique cancer signature for each and every patient and design a customized plan of attack that fits them right down to the molecular level,” explained Mark Kozloff, M.D., oncologist/hematologist and medical director of Ingalls Cancer Care.
Traditionally, when a patient is diagnosed with cancer, doctors remove the tumor and send it to a lab to be categorized by size and shape. Patients diagnosed with cancer in the same organ usually receive the same medications — typically chemotherapy — delivered in a standard dose.
However, personalized cancer treatment at Ingalls aims to minimize this approach by matching patients to a specific treatment based on the molecular characteristics of their tumor. Through analysis, doctors are able to use important information from the tumor to create a more effective treatment with better results.
Treatments ahead of their time
It has long been recognized, for example, that hormonal therapy for breast cancer is most effective when the breast cancer contains receptors for estrogen and/or progesterone. Testing for these receptors is now part of the standard clinical work-up for breast cancer.
“About 25 percent of women with breast cancer produce too much of a protein known as HER2, which makes the cancer more aggressive and difficult to treat,” Dr. Kozloff said. “This discovery in the 1990s led to a drug called Herceptin, which specifically targets HER2 and decreases cancer recurrences in these women by as much as 50 percent.”
For women with a certain type of early-stage breast cancer, the Oncotype DX genetic test at Ingalls can tell doctors if cancer will recur and if chemotherapy will be of any benefit.
At Ingalls, targeted therapies are now in use for certain types of colon, lung, ovarian and liver cancers, and research is underway in many other types.
In fact, 20 percent of all Ingalls cancer patients are enrolled in a clinical trial, compared to the national average of 5 percent.
Ingalls regularly collaborates with the National Cancer Institute; the nation’s leading cancer treatment centers like UCLA Medical Center, Duke, MD Anderson and others; and locally with the major university hospitals to design and implement a wide array of clinical trials.
“Our cancer specialists are constantly improving the standard of care,” Dr. Kozloff added. “And because we focus on individualized care, we provide the resources our patients need to fight, win and move on with their lives. At Ingalls, we tell our patients that we treat one kind of cancer: theirs.”
For more information, call Ingalls Cancer Care at (708) 915-HOPE (4673).
Provided by Ingalls Health System