In this first episode of OncChats: Immunotherapy and You, John Nakayama, MD, and Ali Amjad, MD, explain how immunotherapy has changed practice for the treatment of patients with gynecologic cancers.
In this first episode of OncChats: Immunotherapy and You, John Nakayama, MD, of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Allegheny Health Network, and assistant professor of OBGYN at Drexel University, and Ali Amjad, MD, medical hematologic oncologist, Allegheny Health Network, explain how immunotherapy has changed practice for the treatment of patients with gynecologic cancers.
Nakayama: Welcome to OncChats, I'm Dr. Nakayama. Today, I am joined by Dr. Ali Amjad; he's a hematologist oncologist at Allegheny Health Network. Dr. Amjad, would you mind introducing yourself to everybody?
Amjad: Thank you, Dr. Nakayama. It is a pleasure to be here, with you, today. I'm a medical oncologist, board certified in hematology and medical oncology. My practice here, at Allegheny Health Network, is a mix of tertiary care referral, as well as community practice. I mostly specialize in gynecologic medical oncology, in my main center. I [also] have 2 satellite offices, where I see a mix of the usual lung, prostate, breast, and other cancers. Thank you for having me.
Nakayama: Thank you for being here. The thing that we're trying to do with this series is get an idea of where immunotherapy has been, where we are right now, and where we're going. You know, from my standpoint, as a gynecologic oncologist, this is all really new. However, for you guys, this is old hat. How have you seen immunotherapy change in your practice in the past few years?
Amjad: You're right; immunotherapy has changed the landscape of our treatments for cancer care in general. Traditionally, we used to think of chemotherapy or cytotoxic chemotherapy, where we were focusing on trying to kill the cancer to chemicals. However, now we realize that with immunotherapy, we can harness the body's own immune system to do the job for us. There are ways to to unleash the immune system onto the cancer, and there are ways to enhance the immune system—all of that [falls within] the realm of immunotherapy.
We saw the initial hint of immunotherapy working in 2010, more than a decade ago, and since then, we have had a lot of immunotherapy approvals. You may have heard about checkpoint inhibitors, and we'll talk more about them. We have 6 or 8 checkpoint inhibitors now approved by the FDA for a variety of cancers.
Nakayama: Sounds great.
Check back next Wednesday to view the next segment in this series.