Dr. Dekhne is a surgeon who specializes in the surgical management of breast disease, and Dr. Zakalik is a medical oncologist with a specialty in breast cancer. They have worked together in the Cancer Genetics program at Corewell Health in Southeast Michigan East for decades and have seen tremendous innovations in the understanding and treatment of cancer. They agree that advancements in precision medicine are now moving faster than they have ever seen before.
Dr. Dekhne and Dr. Zakalik have worked with a number of families where cancer has been prevalent. The difference is that they are now able to take care of the next generation with the benefit of genetic testing, better cancer screenings, and more treatment options. Both doctors acknowledge how gratifying it feels to be able to tell a patient that had previously seen their loved ones pass away from cancer, that they were going to do better and were going to beat the odds.
Dr. Zakalik is most excited about immune therapy. “You want to boost the power of your immune system and essentially allow it to recognize the cancer as foreign and destroy it. That's really at the core of the tremendous progress we've made. Many of these therapies are oral, they don't bring hair loss, and don't make people sick. Just about every single cancer has been positively impacted by our research into immune therapy.”
Both doctors are looking forward to the day when they can tell every patient who has a diagnosis of a cancer, that their prognosis is good. They both want to see the time when cancer will no longer be such a dreaded disease. “If we can turn cancer into a fully preventable or treatable disease,” Dr. Zakalik told us, “Then our patients will live better lives and reach their full life potential.”
When we asked Dr. Dekhne about her goal for cancer care she told us, “My ultimate goal is to put myself out of a job because that means we could treat cancers without surgery. We're not there yet, but we’re getting there.” Dr. Zakalik added that her goal is to never have anyone succumb to the ravages of cancer. She says, on a hopeful note, “We are starting to win the war against cancer. We have a lot to be grateful for and we have a lot to be hopeful for.”