The standard-of-care treatment
The international standard of care is given for several advanced cancer types, because it has been proven to be most effective treatment until thus far. During the past several years, new treatment strategies combining surgery, radiotherapy and anticancer medicines have been developed. These intensive treatments require optimal multidisciplinary interactions of several different clinical specialisms. Therefore, the medical oncology department is involved in many multidisciplinary meetings each week to discuss the optimal treatment strategies for our patients including possible participation of patients in clinical trials.
The department has focused its research activities on a number of tumor types. These include brain tumors, head-and-neck cancer, breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancer types (including gastro-esophageal and colorectal cancer), prostate cancer, renal cell cancer, gynaecological cancer and skin tumors (melanomas).
We have shortly summarized our focus for each tumor type below. Of course, although we do not presently perform research in other tumor types specifically, the available treatments extend beyond the below mentioned tumor types and we have ample experience with most intensive treatment strategies.
Our intensive collaboration with the departments of neurology, neurosurgery and radiotherapy leads to the development of new treatment strategies for brain and neurological tumors. Clinical trials of combination treatments with radiotherapy as well as systemic treatment strategies for advanced disease are being conducted and developed.
Head and neck cancer
For head and neck tumors a multidisciplinary team of head and neck surgeons, radiotherapists, pathologists and medical oncologists plays a crucial role in the planning of intensive treatment strategies. In weekly multidiscplinary meetings individualized treatment plans are discussed. Frequently, patients are being treated with combination chemoradiotherapy, which requiries extensive experience as it can be accompanied by both short-term and long-term complications. Our preclinical and clinical research is focussed on improving the efficacy of these treatment strategies and diminishing the side-effects. The department of medical oncology is also developing new treatment strategies for advanced stages of disease. The department is active in the Dutch Society of Head and Neck Tumors and the European Head and Neck Society of the EORTC.
For the treatment of breast cancer extensive treatment options are available, but in the metastatic phase treatment is palliative. Improvement of treatment options are of crucial importance. We complete a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, radiotherapists, pathologists, radiologists and medical oncologists to ensure the optimal treatment of patients with breast cancer. In addition, we initiate and participate in several clinical trials studying specific biological tumor characteristics to improve treatment outcomes and quality of life for patients with breast cancer.
Colorectal cancer, oesophageal and gastric cancer
The department focuses on the treatment of advanced and metastatic gastro-intestinal tumors. A team of gastroenterologists, surgeons, radiotherapists, radiologists, nuclear medicine specialists, pathologists and medical oncologists determine the optimal multidisciplinary combination treatment approach for each individual patient. We study ways to improve treatment outcome with targeted agents in addition to standard treatment approaches. In the past few years we have made clear progress in ways to select patients for an optimal individualized treatment strategy (personalized cancer care) by combined clinical and laboratory (bed-to-bench) research.Both for locally advanced as well as for metastatic disease new treatment strategies are being studied in clinical trials.
Advanced prostate cancer
Within our department patients with advanced prostate cancer are being treated with new targeted agents as well as with immunotherapy using tumor vaccine approaches. The strong interaction of the clinicians with the preclinical laboratory is crucial for this type of research. In addition, our department participates in national and international clinical trials to study new treatment possibilities for patients that are refractory to standard chemotherapy apporaches.
Renal cell cancer
In the past several years a rapid development of new systemic treatment approaches with angiogenesis inhibitors has occurred. The department is very much involved in the development of these new agents, both preclinically and clinically. Further studies aim at a better understanding of the toxicity of these novel treatments and ways to circumvent resistance.
In collaboration with the department of gynaecology, we contribute to new treatment approaches for gynaecological tumors in both national and international clinical trials.
For advanced melanomas almost no effective treatment options are available. The department is very actively studying immunotherapeutic treatment strategies to improve the treatment outcome of this disease in an advanced stage.