Home » The Next Step in Cancer Research: Sharon Plon, M.D., Ph.D. – A foot in two courts…
Fall 2005 – Baylor College of Medicine Solutions
By Ruth SoRelle, M.P.H.
Dr. Sharon Plon’s career could be a roadmap for bridging gaps between disciplines and fields in medicine.
She came to Baylor College of Medicine because the newly established Texas Children’s Cancer Center gave her the opportunity to bring together her two professional loves—medical genetics and cancer research. She runs both adult and pediatric cancer genetics clinics, where she advises patients with concerns about their cancer risk.
Take the problem of colon cancer.
Most patients she sees in the adult genetic clinic at the Baylor Clinic are referred for breast cancer – mainly because physicians and patients recognized the potential for a genetic predisposition. Yet colon cancer can also be inherited.
“We have done studies at BCM showing that people are more likely to be screened for breast cancer than colon cancer—even when there is a family history of colon cancer,” she said.
Plon directs clinics at Baylor Clinic, Texas Children’s Cancer Center, and a combined adult and pediatric clinic at the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer and Hematology Clinic in McAllen. In each, she spends time with both patient and their family.
“The patient’s treatment directly affects other family members,” she said. “Parents of pediatric cancer patients want to know their risk of having other children with cancer and the risk to the child’s siblings. The parents themselves could face increased cancer risks.”
“Often, the biggest impact of what we do is on the other family members,” said Plon.