Michigan State University Health Care and Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Greater Lansing have welcomed their newest physician, Jayson B. Field, MD.
Dr. Field is a nationally recognized gynecologic oncologist. He brings more than 15 years of oncology experience to Mid-Michigan. Dr. Field specializes in minimally invasive surgery, open debulking of ovarian cancer, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy treatments for women with gynecologic cancers, including ovarian and endometrial cancer. Since 2012, he has served as principal investigator for Gynecologic Oncology Group, NRG Oncology Clinical Trials, which is responsible for improving and expanding cancer diagnosis and treatment. He is assistant professor and director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University.
“Gynecologic oncology has a bit of a name problem,” says Field. “We're basically specialists in women's cancer. We treat women with cancers of the reproductive tract and sometimes benign problems as well, so problems with the uterus, the cervix, the ovaries, and the tubes. We do both surgery and chemotherapy and coordinate radiation oncology care for women with gynecologic cancer. We're a bit like the primary care doctor for women with those types of cancers.”
What attracted Dr. Field to MSU?
“The biggest thing that a gynecologic oncologist likes to do is be busy taking care of patients, and this area has been without a gynecologic oncologist. Everyone was really enthusiastic about being able to offer those services in this area. My main goal is to take excellent care of patients and do excellent surgery and care for patients through the life cycle after their diagnosis with a cancer.”
Dr. Field says there have been “amazing breakthroughs” in the last three years.
“We'd gone through sort of a 10-year dry period with not a lot of new treatments, and in the last three years, we've got a whole new class of treatments for patients with ovarian cancer that overlaps with breast cancer patients. The PARP inhibitors are really effective in patients with genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. But we're finding that 50 percent of patients, whether they've inherited those mutations or not, can benefit from those drugs, which is really exciting. We're realizing how much earlier to offer those treatments to patients. The next step is combinations of new therapies to treat patients once they've developed resistance to drugs.”
Field talks about the role telemedicine has played during the pandemic, and he thinks it will remain in some form even after the pandemic.
“This was a breakthrough. The increase was almost instantaneous last March and was automatically approved to be used as a regular visit. A lot of my patients are elderly and are brought to me by their kids or their relatives and have transportation issues and functional limitations. To be able to not have to get out, get in the car, get in a parking spot and make their way into a clinic and instead be able to hook up to somebody's smartphone, I think is just really nice for patients. I don't know that I'm great at it yet, but I just think it's really nice for patients to have that as an option.”
Do you think we’ll ever cure cancer?
“Cancer isn't one thing. It's one of the reasons that what I do is so interesting. Ovarian cancers, from a doctor's perspective and a scientist's perspective, are really interesting because the ovaries can make anything, a whole person. The range of cancers that come from the ovary are so different. I'm always in awe of my pathologists to be able to tell the difference in types of cancer just from the small amount of tissue that we give them. There's so much variety. I think we're getting better and better. In the last three, four, five years, things have sort of rapidly moved in a direction that nobody anticipated just from 10 years ago. So always the hope is to get rid of it, but it's not one thing. It's not that simple.”
Dr. Field says the main things patients can do to prevent cancer are the things we do for ourselves every day.
“Two-thirds of cancers can be prevented by things like not smoking and eating healthy and exercising. Several of the cancers I take care of are really helped by people who live a healthy lifestyle; that's probably the biggest thing you can do. The next step is to see your doctor yearly. For women, I think they should be seeing their gynecologist yearly. They're going to screen them for cancers, like cervical cancer, and ask them questions related to the other types of cancers that I treat.
“If they notice differences in their body, like bleeding when they haven't had a period in a long time or problems where they're losing weight and not really trying to lose weight or having trouble eating or problems using the bathroom or new pains or discomforts that they haven't had before and those symptoms stick around for three weeks, they should get those checked out by their primary doctor and their gynecologist. Usually, the way I see patients is their excellent primary doctors have picked up that something's wrong and oftentimes sent them for tests or imaging. By the time I see them, it's very obvious what's going on, whereas it can sometimes take weeks, months, and even a year to figure out that first part, who they need to see.”
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