Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine

Ovarian Cancer: Understanding the Silent Killer

Treatments and new hope in detection? We're talking ovarian cancer with Dr. Tamar Perri, director of the Gynecologic Oncology Department and her former patient, Dr. Rivka Brooks, a founding director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, at Hadassah Medical Organization.


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About this episode

Dr. Tamar Perri, MD, is the head of the Gynecologic Oncology Department at Hadassah Medical Organization. She is a specialist in ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, cervical cancer, gynecological oncology surgery and fertility preservation in cancer patients. Dr. Perri received her medical degree from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine in Tel Aviv University, Israel and completed her residency at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah-Tikva, Israel, at the McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

She has taught clinical courses for students in obstetrics and gynecology rotations for the Sackler Faculty of Medicine in Tel Aviv, and for nurses in oncology, surgery and midwifery courses at the Academic Nursing School of Rabin Medical Center and Sheba Medical Center, Israel.

She has volunteered with CHoiCe Trust, a health-based NGO serving the rural population of the Mopani District, Limpopo, South Africa and presently serves as the elected secretary of The Israeli Society of Gynecologic Oncology.

Dr. Rivka Brooks, MD, is the head of the Pediatric Palliative Team within the Pediatric Division of the Hadassah Medical Organization. A founding director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, she received her medical degree and did her residency at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School. Dr. Brooks was a fellow in the Pediatric Intensive Care Department of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, a visiting physician at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and also taught Palliative Care Education and Practice at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

Barbara Sofer is the Israel Director of Public Relations for the Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America.  She works in the Hadassah Office in Israel.  She is a popular columnist in the Jerusalem Post, an award winning journalist and has been a contributing editor at Hadassah Magazine for more than a decade, covering articles in all sectors of Israeli society. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Women’s Day, Reader's Digest, and Parent's to name a few.

Dr. Rivkah Brooks spends most days running the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. But nine months ago, she was doing a running of another kind: Brooks was hiking on vacation when she noticed something strange with her period. She called her doctor. "I'm not hysterical, but I think I've got cancer," she said. Within a few days of returning home, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and quickly scheduled for surgery. Within two weeks, she started chemotherapy. The swift response to her medical care was all orchestrated by Dr. Tamar Perri, the Director of the new Gynecologic Oncology Department at Hadassah and our featured guest this month.

The center puts the care of gynecological cancers under one roof, enabling the hospital to offer the much-needed swift treatment of the disease. After all, timing is critical. "There’s no early detection of ovarian cancer," said Dr. Perri. "It's a silent killer." Dr. Perri and Dr. Brooks join us for the new episode of "Hadassah on Call," in honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

One in 78 women will get ovarian cancer and, for Jewish women, that number is double due to the prevalence of the BRCA gene. "Even if you don't have any family history, just being an Ashkenazi Jewish woman will mean that you might have it," said Dr. Perri. "Get tested and remove the ovaries at the right time before it gets cancerous. That's the only thing you can do."

While a diagnosis of the disease used to be a death sentence, it isn't always anymore. "There's been a lot going on in ovarian cancer," said Dr. Perri, "and we have new treatments and exciting opportunities to offer for patients now that we didn't have only a few years ago. I feel very lucky to practice the medicine these days because the changes are so fast."

Dr. Brooks, now cancer-free, she feels blessed that her path crossed with Dr. Perri. "I think working in Hadassah, and also being treated in Hadassah, you feel the cutting edge of medicine," Dr. Brooks said. "It's the best clinicians, the best research, amazing people. I find myself very, very fortunate."

Further learning: Battling cancer at Hadassah.

“Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine” is a production of Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America. Hadassah enhances the health of people around the world through medical education, care and research innovations at the Hadassah Medical Organization. For more information on the latest advances in medicine please head over to hadassah.org.

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The show is hosted by Benyamin Cohen and produced by the team at the Hadassah offices in both New York and Israel.

Read a transcript of this episode.

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Our recent episode about PTSD:

If you enjoyed this conversation, you may want to check out our last episode with three doctors who specialize in post-traumatic disorder. While many of us think of PTSD as something soldiers experience on the battlefield, the most common form occurs from car accidents. You’ll learn about new treatment options and how the trauma of living through a pandemic has impacted their field. You can find that episode of “Hadassah On Call” on Apple Podcast, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcast. Or on the web at hadassah.org/hadassahoncall.

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