Dr Susana Banerjee is a Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden, a world-leading cancer centre that pioneers new treatments that save lives. In the past six months, Dr Banerjee has appointed Dr Lucy Dumas and Dr Jenny McLachlan to join her team and together they are pursuing developments and advancing research across the full range of gynaecological cancers. The ground-breaking projects outlined here would not be possible without the support of the donors and the inspirational fundraisers and volunteers of the Gynaecological Cancer Fund.
Kinder, more effective treatments for all gynaecological cancers
Dr Banerjee and her team continually recruit new patients to provide samples to use in their ground-breaking research. Having a larger and more diverse set of samples available ensures the team’s results are as comprehensive and representative as possible. Furthermore, by collecting samples from patients at different stages, such as at diagnosis and relapse, they are depicting a more complete understanding of each patient’s cancer journey.
One of the areas of research in which the samples are being used is Dr Banerjee’s project to develop a platform of genetic and molecular tests for all women with gynaecological cancers. This study will advance our understanding of the genetics behind gynaecological cancers and in turn inform personalised treatment plans for patients. This means that more women could have a chance of receiving treatments that work best for them without being subjected to side effects from unnecessary treatments.
Treating the whole patient, not just the cancer
There is an urgent need to expand the very limited research into the improving the treatments, outcomes and care of women over the age of 65 who have gynaecological cancer. Dr Banerjee is leading the project and, with the help of Dr Dumas, is looking at predicting outcomes and toxicities, survivorship, support, as well as patient and carer experiences. The results of this potentially life-changing project could also have an impact on the treatment of patients with other cancers.
Breakthroughs in cancer treatment
Developing efficient ways to identify women who can benefit from targeted treatments is vital in ensuring that they can access the drugs as quickly as possible. One of Dr Banerjee’s areas of research is analysing ovarian cancer samples for abnormities in the cancer as well as for the presence of the BRCA gene, with the aim of helping individual patients access the latest treatment breakthroughs.
Thanks to the work of Dr Banerjee and her team, some women that participated in this research will be identified to receive a ground-breaking new drug Olaparib (a PARP inhibitor also known as Lynparza). This is the latest for ovarian cancer to be made available through the NHS and the first ever targeted therapy for women with a BRCA mutation. Until now, the only other treatments available to women in this category were surgery and/or chemotherapy.
Working together to pioneer treatments for rare and aggressive cancers
Dr Banerjee is also establishing collaborations with other researchers internationally to explore the issues around rarer types of endometrial and ovarian cancers for the benefit of women world-wide. Together, they will combine their knowledge and resources to investigate why rarer types of these cancers are so aggressive and difficult to treat, with the aim of identifying more effective targeted therapies sooner.
It is only because of the generosity of our supporters that we are able to remain at the very forefront of gynaecological cancer research, whilst continuing to provide our female patients with the very best diagnosis, treatment and care.
The work of Dr Banerjee and her team has the real potential not only to change what a gynaecological cancer diagnosis will mean for the next generation of women, but also to change the way our mothers, sisters and daughters are treated now. None of this would be possible without the continued passion, dedication and support of the Gynaecological Cancer Fund, and for that we are extremely grateful.