5. Cancer prevention
As researchers and clinicians gain more knowledge about different types of cancer, prevention and understanding the hereditary nature of these diseases has been critical to improving outcomes and increasing survival. For example, screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, have had a significant impact on breast and colon cancer and BRCA gene screening can identify patients at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer. The role of risk reducing surgery continues to be explored including the possibility of just removing the fallopian tubes in patients at risk for ovarian cancer who wish to delay removal of their ovaries for several years. This was first proposed after it was discovered that early occult cancer were found in the fallopian tubes of high risk patients that were removed at the time of prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy (surgically removing ovaries).
Finally, increased awareness and vaccination rates for adolescents have helped slow the rate of the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which causes 33,000 cancer cases each year including head and neck and cervical cancer.
Richard Barakat, MD, is an internationally recognized surgeon and clinical investigator. He leads all of cancer services and research at Northwell Health, including the Cancer Institute. Dr. Barakat joined Northwell after serving as chief of the Gynecology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering and director of its regional network.