Recently we were fortunate enough to speak with Dr. Tony Philip, a medical oncologist who has a clinical interest in sarcoma. Dr. Philip was kind enough to allow us to interview him so we could share some of the work he has done for the sarcoma community and what his plans are for the future. Thank you Dr. Philip for your time and all of the work you are doing for sarcoma patients.
Eric D. Davis Sarcoma Foundation (EDDF): Tell us about yourself professionally
Dr. Tony Philip (TP): I’m a medical oncologist at the North Shore LIJ Cancer Institute in Long Island New York. I attended Binghamton University for college before going on to Buffalo University School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences for my MD. I’m originally from the Long Island area so I’ve been fortunate enough to have been at North Shore LIJ for my residency in Internal Medicine and subsequent fellowship in Hematology/Oncology. My main clinical interests are caring for patients with gastrointestinal malignancies and sarcomas.
EDDF: Why did you decide to focus on sarcoma?
TP: I see sarcomas as the next frontier in oncology. So much has changed in the last 10 years with regards to treatment, I think with a better understanding of the biology of sarcoma that we can develop better targeted therapies. I’m truly excited by the thought that in my lifetime, sarcoma management will likely be revolutionized.
EDDF: Tell us about the work you are doing for sarcoma patients on Long Island?
TP: Before I decided to focus of sarcoma, there was a true unmet need for someone to help manage patients with sarcoma in Long Island. We serve a large patient population outside of and at the edges of NYC so I thought rather than them having to travel far into the city that we could provide the necessary care locally. It is hard enough for patients to deal with the diagnosis and treatment so that their ability or inability to travel shouldn’t be a roadblock to their care. I’ve been fortunate to be able to collaborate with other medical oncologists at Mount Sinai, Memorial Sloan Kettering, University of Michigan and MD Anderson to obtain their expertise when seeing patients. My goal in the next 2-3 years is to build a more robust sarcoma program at North Shore LIJ. We’ve gotten to a great start so far.
EDDF: What would you like to see in the future for sarcoma patients?
TP: More targeted non-toxic therapy like we see in GIST – a disease that has in many ways been transformed since 2000. Until we have a cure for these diseases, better targeted therapy would be the next best thing
EDDF: Do you think it is important for a sarcoma patient to be treated by a sarcoma specialist?
TP: Undeniably yes! Someone with a sense of the latest treatment options and savy to know when therapy is needed or not needed. Access to clinical trials is crucial as well. Medicine has become increasingly sub-specialized as is oncology so that patients with sarcomas (which in of themselves are rare cancers) need to be cared for by an oncologist who has experience in the field.
EDDF: What is a common misconception about sarcoma?
TP: All soft tissue sarcomas are same and histology doesn’t matter. Nothing can be more wrong because more and more we are tailoring our therapy based on histologic subtypes.
EDDF: Why (if so) do you think it is important for people to volunteer or donate money to raise funds to support sarcoma research?
TP: Research doesn’t happen on its own so that if you know someone with sarcoma or any cancer for that fact, please consider funding research so that we can continue to improve treatment and help others. Every little bit truly helps