Making headway in the treatment of gynecologic cancers

June 8, 2017 | by Denise Heady

Mehdi Kebria Surgeon Mehdi Kebria, M.D.
The evolution of cancer treatment continues, particularly in the area of gynecologic cancers. The ranks of the survivor community continue to grow, while physicians, surgeons and researchers now have a better understanding of the role of genetic alteration in cancer development, paving the way for better and more individualized treatments.
 
Mehdi Kebria, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Department of Surgery at City of Hope | Rancho Cucamonga, will be discussing some of these advancements at the Southern California Women’s Cancer Conference on Saturday, June 17, at the Riverside Convention Center.
 
Here, Kebria, gives us a preview of his panel and shares information about advances in combating gynecologic cancers:
 
What treatment advances do you expect for gynecologic cancers?
We are in an exciting era of discoveries and advances in cancer treatment, specifically with regard to gynecologic cancers. There have been several recent advances and overall survival of our patients with these cancers is improving.
 
We now have a better understanding of the role of genetic alterations in cancer development and new drugs have become available that take advantage of these to attack cancer cells. We have made progress in targeting cancer cells with drugs that have fewer side effects and are more effective.
 
Minimally invasive and robotic surgery is now used for treatment of a majority of women with gynecologic cancer. We have made progress in the safe use of advanced surgical procedures and can now combine surgery with heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy for selected patients with ovarian cancer.
 
One of your specialties is the use of cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC. How significant is that for the field?  
Ovarian cancer tends to spread on the surface of abdominal organs, and surgery is often done to minimize the tumor burden prior to the initiation of chemotherapy. Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a concentrated, heated chemotherapy that is delivered directly to the cancer cells within the abdomen and pelvis during surgery. Heating the solution improves the absorption of chemotherapy drugs by tumors and together the heat and chemotherapy destroy microscopic cancer cells that remain in the abdomen after surgery. It also minimizes the toxic effects of chemotherapy drugs on other body organs.   
 
Overall, where is the field of cancer treatment and research moving in your specialty?
There are many areas of ongoing cancer research being conducted to help us better understand cancer etiology and find new ways to fight cancer. Lately, there have been exciting developments in the area of cancer immunotherapy, in which our immune system is trained to target cancer cells and eliminate them.
 
The Women’s Cancer Conference is focusing on post-diagnosis and survivorship issues. How does City of Hope support patients beyond medical treatment?
We at City of Hope believe that cancer is a family affair — cancer isn’t something that just impacts your body, it can affect your entire family. That is why, from the moment a diagnosis happens, it is important to get treatment for your cancer and get support for yourself, your family, caregivers and friends. At City of Hope we’ve created an emotional safety net to help you and your family cope with the stress and emotional toll of cancer. Our work revolves around boosting your and your loved ones' spirits and sense of hope with personalized care, compassion and support.
 
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Join Kebria at the Southern California Women’s Cancer Conference on Saturday, June 17to learn more about gynecologic cancers and participate in hands-on workshops that will help you develop life-changing skills geared specifically to cancer survivors.
 
Register for free using code: COHxWCC
 
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