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Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Q&A with Mitchell Clark, MD

September 13, 2022

As we honor Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, what do you want our patients and families to pause and remember?

First and foremost, I think of the many women who we have had the privilege of caring for who have lost their battle with gynecologic cancer over the past year. We honor their memory by continuing to forge ahead with cutting edge research that can lead us to innovative, personalized care that will offer prevention, early diagnosis, prolonged survival and improved quality of life for the next generation of women facing these diseases.

How do you collaborate with your colleagues in gyn-onc at Smilow Cancer Hospital to care for your patients?

Being an oncologist is the truest example of a team sport in medicine. As a specialized GYN cancer team, we work together to evaluate, diagnose and design individualized treatment plans that address the unique needs of each patient. We recognize the importance of a comprehensive care team that includes genetics, psychologists, survivorship and integrative medicine that address the entire patient, not just the cancer. These collaborative teams consist of world recognized leaders in their field that bring the most cutting edge options for patients at Smilow.

What inspires you to work in gynecologic oncology?

Without a doubt it is the courage and strength of my patients and their families that inspire me to continue to do the work we do at Smilow GYN Oncology. The determination and perseverance despite the obstacles they face bring energy and excitement to our team. Working with such a passionate group of professionals makes coming to work each day a rewarding and inspiring experience.

What advances have made the biggest impact in the treatment of gyn-onc patients over the last 5 years?

Over the last 5 years we have seen dramatic shifts in how we treat GYN cancers that have led to significant improvements in survival while balancing quality of life and side effects. Like many other cancers, we have seen a dramatic increase in the use of immunotherapy to turn the body’s immune system into a cancer fighting tool. I look forward to the incredible advances we will see in the coming 5 years.

Clinical trials are often the best option for therapy. How do you explain this to patients who are hesitant?

There are many misconceptions about what it means to participate in a clinical trial which highlights the importance of proper education and counseling. Participation in one of the many clinical trials we have available at Smilow means patients have access to cutting-edge treatment options that would not be otherwise available outside the context of a trial. These are often medications that have shown exciting results in preliminary studies and can offer improved cancer outcomes compared to the usual options. Not only will patients expand their treatment options, their participation is supervised by a team of experts from our trials team that act as personalized care navigators for patients as they go through these phases of their cancer care.

Submitted by Eliza Folsom on September 13, 2022