Our Experts Take Cancer Personally

Can cancer treatments be tailored like clothing? Can cancer medicine be matched to "fit" an individual patient?

Increasingly, the evidence is saying yes. 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.

"We're moving much more in the direction of personalized cancer medicine," explains Mark Kozloff, M.D., oncologist/hematologist on staff at Ingalls and medical director of Ingalls Cancer Care. "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."

Personalized cancer treatment at Ingalls matches patients to a specific treatment based on the molecular characteristics of their tumor. Through study and analysis, doctors are able to use important information from the tumor itself to create a more effective treatment with better overall results.

"Not so long ago, most lung cancers were treated the same way; colon cancer was treated one way; breast cancer was treated one of two ways," explains Dr. Kozloff. "But through research, we've discovered that even among patients with the same type of cancer, the behavior of the cancer and its response to treatment can vary widely. By exploring the reasons for this variation, we've begun to pave the way for more personalized cancer treatment."

Sixty-eight-year-old Patricia Levine of Crete credits personalized cancer treatment at Ingalls as the reason for her successful battle against advanced lung and bone cancers. Patricia is on Erbitux, a targeted therapy shown to extend the lives of patients with this type of cancer.

"I have a friend who has been going through the same thing, but I have been so much more fortunate," she explains. "I feel very blessed to have the chance to get better. This treatment has worked out well for my particular cancer."

Pioneering Cancer Research at Ingalls

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.

"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."

Ingalls Cancer Care.
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