For patients receiving treatment for late-stage endometrial cancer at Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Institute, they now have a new standard of care that could greatly enhance the likelihood of remission and recovery.
A clinical research trial conducted in part by Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Institute oncologist Sobia Ozair, MD, found that adding immunotherapy to standard chemotherapy treatments greatly improved the chances of survival for patients with stage III or IV endometrial cancer.
These cancers develop in the inner lining of the uterus. It’s the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs, with more than 66,000 women diagnosed in the U.S. each year. It’s also often not detected until advanced stages, making treatment more difficult.
Dr. Ozair served as a principal investigator on the nationwide study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. She is part of a team at the Cancer Institute that provides women with high-quality breast and gynecological cancer care using the latest technologies and research.
“Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Institute has been the region’s destination for cancer care for over 30 years and our commitment to bring the latest treatment options to our patients is stronger than ever.” Dr. Ozair says. “In cancer care, we don’t have a lot of targeted options for treating gynecologic cancers. We are always looking for new trials and innovative solutions that bringing the best possible care to our patients and to our community.”
Immunotherapy is a treatment that boosts a person’s own immune system to fight cancer so it can find, target and attack cancer cells. The immune system will naturally try to fight infections and other diseases, but some cancer cells are capable of counteracting or even confusing the immune system.
Several types of immunotherapies can be deployed, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, T-cell transfer therapy, monoclonal antibodies, treatment vaccines and immune system modulators — all of which either beef up the immune system’s capabilities or target cancer cells in a way that makes them more visible to the immune system’s defenses.
The clinical research trial Dr. Ozair participated in used a monoclonal antibody known as pembrolizumab in addition to chemotherapy.
Immunotherapy has become the standard of care for many types of cancer over the past decade — and also one of several types of treatment available at the Cancer Institute — but had not been previously studied specifically in the treatment of endometrial cancer.
Dr. Ozair has already begun utilizing immunotherapy for her patients since the study was published. Such patients previously had few alternatives.
Conducted at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion — a collaborative facility managed by Woman’s Hospital, Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Institute and Mary-Bird Perkins Cancer Center — the trial is an example of the important research conducted by Our Lady of the Lake Health that advances the level of care available to patients.
“Our Lady of the Lake practices evidence-based medicine and is working to bring the most cutting-edge research and clinical trials to our patients,” says Cyndi Knox, Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Institute’s Director of Clinical Research. “These types of clinical trials are how we develop and advance our standard of care, providing patients with world-class treatments right here in Baton Rouge.”