Basics of Personalized Cancer Medicine

 

Natasha Tiffany MD

Natasha Tiffany MD

Natasha Tiffany, MD, serves as a physician and partner at Oregon Oncology Specialists in Salem, Oregon. Dedicated to advancing options for cancer treatment, Natasha Tiffany, MD, uses patient testing to offer personalized treatment plans.

Medical science has known for some time that different types and stages of cancer require different treatments. However, even when two patients with the same type of cancer receive a particular treatment, each person’s body reacts differently.

Over the past few decades, research has revealed that a number of genetic errors may lead to cancer, and the disease is often the result of multiple malfunctions converging to cause abnormal cell growth. This understanding led researchers in the late 1990s and early 2000s to develop the first targeted therapy drugs, which interrupt the reproductive functions of cancer cells and cause the death of those cells.

As personalized medicine has continued to develop, doctors have found that different patients with the same type of cancer can experience different genetic changes. This has led to the creation of tumor profiling, which evaluates the genetic makeup of a cancer to determine the treatments that may be most effective. Profiling can help the treatment team better understand how a patient’s body will react to a particular treatment.

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Precision Oncology Creates Amazing Advances in Cancer Care

Natasha Tiffany MD

Natasha Tiffany MD

Board certified in internal medicine, hematology, and medical oncology, Natasha Tiffany, MD, has been a partner at Oregon Oncology Specialists (formerly Hematology Oncology of Salem) in Salem, Oregon, for over a decade. Alongside her activities as the owner of a private medical practice, Natasha Tiffany, MD, pursues her lifelong passion for education through affiliations with several organizations. She currently serves on the board of trustees for Abiqua Academy and teaches as an affiliate assistant professor at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

The age of precision oncology has drastically changed how Dr. Tiffany treats patients with cancer. “When I started my career in oncology, now nearly 2 decades ago, we had only a handful of targeted therapies. The first truly targeted drug was Gleevec, developed to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia. Since then, there has been a revolution in oncology with more and more medications designed not to simply kill rapidly dividing cells like standard chemotherapy, but to target molecular pathways that drive cancer cell growth and survival.”
Dr. Tiffany notes that chemotherapy side effects are due in large part to the fact that chemotherapy kills rapidly dividing cells, like cancer cells. However, other rapidly dividing cells are killed, like the cells that line our gastrointestinal tract, or our hair cells. They repopulate, but not before patients suffer the side effects of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and hair loss.
Targeted therapy, in general, has less side effects as it effects a smaller population of normal cells in our body. We now use targeted therapy or immunotherapy to treat many cancer types. Perhaps the most dramatic benefits of targeted therapy and immunotherapy have been seen in lung cancer, kidney cancer, and melanoma.
Dr. Tiffany feels that precision oncology has been a remarkable leap forward in our ability to kill cancer cells. “People are living now many years longer than before due to these new technologies. In lung cancer, we no longer use chemotherapy as the first treatment option for many patients with metastatic disease. We first look for genetic mutations in the tumor that might make it susceptible to a targeted therapy. Additionally, we look to see if the tumor would be sensitive to immunotherapy.”
Now, instead of making a patient sick and fatigued with chemotherapy, Dr. Tiffany states she has the option to treatment some patients up front with immunotherapy, which, in general, is very well tolerated. Those patients whose tumors respond to immunotherapy can have prolonged survival, with benefit lasting several years.
“I am grateful to have lived through this molecularly driven cancer care revolution. I look forward to the advances that we will see in the next decade and trust they will be equally dramatic.”

Salem, Oregon, Practice Provides Much-Needed Services to Its Community

Hematology Oncology of Salem pic

Hematology Oncology of Salem
Image: hemoncofsalem.com

The winner of the Cambridge Who’s Who Professional of the Year in Medical Oncology and Hematology, triple board-certified physician Natasha Tiffany, MD, treats patients at Hematology Oncology of Salem, located in Oregon. Natasha Tiffany, MD, and the office’s other qualified staff members provide care for individuals with cancer and blood disorders. The practice has a focus on designing personalized treatment plans tailored to each patient’s needs.

Despite the demand for a state-of-the-art cancer treatment center in the Salem area, residents had few options before Hematology Oncology of Salem opened in 2000. The clinic now employs eight physicians, a family nurse practitioner, and two certified physician assistants. In 2002, the practice expanded to a second clinic in McMinnville, Oregon. It also has offices in Silverton and Woodburn, Oregon.

To learn more about Hematology Oncology of Salem, please visit www.hemoncofsalem.com. Among other information, the website contains video testimonials from patients who with the help of the practice have beaten cancer and blood disorders.

American Society of Clinical Oncology Hosts Annual Meeting in Chicago

American Society of Clinical Oncology pic

American Society of Clinical Oncology
Image: asco.org

Since 2004, Natasha Tiffany, MD, has worked as a physician for Hematology Oncology of Salem in Oregon. As a hematologist and oncologist, Natasha Tiffany, MD, takes care of patients daily and stays up-to-date with industry-wide changes by maintaining membership with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Established in 1964, ASCO began as an organization dedicated to clinical oncology. ASCO hosts several annual networking opportunities, including conferences, seminars, and professional workshops.

One event hosted by ASCO is its annual meeting, with the 2016 meeting occurring June 3 through 7 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. Funded through the Conquer Cancer Foundation, this annual meeting typically brings in more than 30,000 oncology professionals from around the globe. Titled Collective Wisdom: The Future of Patient-Centered Care and Research, the 2016 event will cover topics such as clinical trial design, geriatric oncology, rapid learning systems, and genomics. Attendees will learn who the organization’s award recipients are, hear updates on the state of the society, and listen to the president’s address. In addition, the annual meeting will feature educational sessions, mentoring opportunities for fellows, and poster discussions.

A Brief Introduction to Aromatase Inhibitors

A triple board-certified physician specializing in hematology and oncology, Natasha Tiffany, MD, serves as a partner and practicing physician at Hematology Oncology of Salem in Salem, Oregon. Natasha Tiffany, MD, and the medical staff at Hematology Oncology of Salem utilize the latest cancer treatments, therapies, and medications, including aromatase inhibitors.

Aromatase inhibitors are a newer class of drugs that are often used to treat breast cancer or prevent its recurrence following surgery in postmenopausal women. Drugs in this class, which include letrozole, anastrozole, and exemestane, work by inhibiting the action of aromatase, the enzyme responsible for converting androgen into estrogen. These drugs are particularly effective in treating estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancers because they reduce the amount of available estrogen, which these types of cancers need to grow.

Either used alone or in combination with other drugs, aromatase inhibitors have been shown to be an effective treatment for both early and metastatic or recurring ER+ breast cancer. These drugs are also often prescribed off-label to treat conditions such as infertility and endometriosis. While they tend to be milder than other cancer drugs, the most common side effects of aromatase inhibitors include joint pain or stiffness, hot flashes, and bone thinning.

Understanding Targeted Cancer Therapies

Natasha Tiffany, MD, administers innovative cancer treatments, such as targeted therapy, through Hematology Oncology of Salem, LLP, in Salem, Oregon. In preparation for her career, she underwent fellowship training in modern cancer care through Oregon Health and Science University. Before deciding whether to pursue targeted cancer therapy, patients ought to consult with an experienced professional like Natasha Tiffany, MD.

A relatively new treatment method, targeted therapy encompasses those medications that hone in on and influence specific molecules that regulate the growth and overall survival of cancer cells. Such methods are distinct from traditional chemotherapy, which does damage to both healthy and malignant cells. Currently, there is a range of targeted therapies available, including those that rely on hormones to treat hormone-sensitive growths and those that trigger controlled cell death in tumors.

For an oncologist to consider targeted therapy as a possible option, the patient in question needs to have a cancer that matches the available therapies. This may require that patients undergo genetic testing to see if their tumor cells actually have the necessary molecules for the therapy to target.

Natasha Tiffany, MD: Aromatase Inhibitors for Treating Early-Stage Breast Cancer

A cum laude graduate of Oregon Health and Science University, Natasha Tiffany, M.D., practices with Hematology Oncology of Salem. She has a professional interest in breast cancer therapy and prescribes aromatase inhibitors such as anastrozole and letrozole in treating certain patients. A newer type of medication, aromatase inhibitors are used by postmenopausal women to halt harmful estrogen production by the aromatase enzyme.

Without the inhibitor, aromatase turns androgen into small amounts of estrogen, which in turn stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells that are hormone-receptor-positive. This treatment approach is distinct from drugs such as raloxifene and tamoxifen, which work by blocking the estrogen receptors. Several studies have compared aromatase inhibitors and tamoxifen. Breastcancer.org notes that aromatase inhibitors typically are recommended as the best hormonal treatment to begin with, particularly among early-stage breast cancer patients who have undergone surgery (and in some cases radiation therapy and chemotherapy). The reason is that aromatase inhibitors appear to have fewer serious side effects, and more benefits overall, than their tamoxifen counterparts.