CM – Surgical oncologist at Perlmutter Cancer Center works on advancing the treatment of women’s cancer


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July 27, 2021

Leslie R. Boyd, MD, a nationally renowned surgeon and expert on women’s cancer, has led various initiatives in gynecological surgery and created complex surgical plans to remove extensive ovarian, cervical or endometrial cancer, using them specializes in robotic minimally invasive surgery. In March 2021, she was appointed director of the Department of Gynecological Oncology, which is part of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone and the Perlmutter Cancer Center.

Dr. Boyd has exceptional patient outcomes experience and a long history of leadership and experience researching best practices and outcomes in gynecological surgery, identifying differences in care for patients with gynecological cancer, and exploring new chemotherapy options for gynecological cancers . She talks about her new role, advances in the treatment of people with gynecological cancer, her work in educating people at high risk of ovarian cancer and more.

We have three main goals in the department: To be the frontrunner in clinical medicine To create research on which new treatments are based and to guide and educate the next generation of oncologists. I have an incredible faculty, each with their expertise to help advance our mission. To be able to support each of them and help them reach their greatest potential is a great job.

This is a very interesting time in terms of cancer drug development, and thanks to our Head of Gynecology Oncology Research, Dr. Bhavana Pothuri (Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of Clinical Studies in Gynecological Oncology), NYU Langone is a premier institute for gynecological cancer studies. Immunotherapy, which has been shown to be useful in melanoma and other cancers for years, is now becoming an important part of the arsenal of weapons for gynecological cancers. We were part of the Phase 3 study EMPOWER-Cervical 1 / GOG-3016 / ENGOT-cx9, a large international study in the immunotherapy of cervical cancer, and we were among the top Accurers in the United States. The study showed that overall survival was significantly improved with the immunotherapy drug cemiplimab compared to patients who received chemotherapy alone in the recurrent cervical cancer setting. That was a practice-changing clinical study that we were happy to participate in. We have been involved in phase 2 studies of immunotherapy in patients with endometrial cancer and are currently open a phase 3 study to complement standard chemotherapy in patients with advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer. We take great pride in providing state-of-the-art treatment options to our patients.

We are fortunate to have world-class cancer researchers dedicated to understanding the biology behind ovarian cancer. Dr. Kari Hacker (Clinical Assistant Professor in the Clinic for Obstetrics and Gynecology) is a doctor-scientist and is headed by Dr. Benjamin Neel (Professor in the Medical Clinic and Director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center). They are finding new ways to model how the immune system deals with ovarian cancer and developing better animal models to test effective drugs. With the results obtained in the Neel Lab, Dr. Hacker on a clinical trial combining chemotherapy and immunotherapy for patients with certain types of ovarian cancers. This is the ideal synergy between laboratory research and clinical medicine – to find new information about how cancer works and to use it for the benefit of our patients. This is how we can move the field forward.

Tina’s Wish is a foundation established after the death of Judge Tina Brozman (former chairwoman of the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern Borough of New York). She was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer and unfortunately died relatively soon after she was diagnosed, which is not uncommon for this type of cancer. Her dying wish was to work for the early detection of ovarian cancer so what happened to her doesn’t happen to other women. The foundation is very effective at mediating in the hope that better information will help women get to the right doctors faster. I give lectures and take part in discussions to discuss the symptoms of ovarian cancer. About 15 percent of women who develop ovarian cancer are at high risk, often based on their family history. In these cases, early detection enables us to initiate effective prevention strategies, including risk-reducing surgery. I want to reach out to these women so they can receive potentially life-saving treatments.

We get a lot of positive feedback from our patients. This is New York City – our patients are savvy, intelligent healthcare consumers. They want the best for themselves and their family members. And what I hear from our patients is that the combination of knowledge, compassion and personal attention they receive at the Perlmutter Cancer Center is unique.

From time to time our patients will seek outside opinions – we encourage our patients feel free to learn as much as possible about various treatment options. When they come back to us, we often hear the same refrain: that the care in other centers doesn’t feel tailored to them. Our patients feel very connected to us, feel personally invested in them and view their treatments in the context of their lives. This is the kind of care we seek all the time and it is very rewarding to listen to reflectively.

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