Dr. Melanie Ongchin is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and Assistant Attending Surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She treats patients with cancer of the stomach, liver, pancreas, and intestines as well as patients with skin and soft tissues malignancies

Dr. Ongchin participated in a Q&A about her work, the hospital’s cancer treatment plans, and how stress and diet affect the body.

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Can you give us more information on malignancies in the areas of the body you specialize in?

I am a surgical oncologist specializing in GI malignancies, which would include cancers of the stomach, liver, pancreas, and intestines. In addition, I see and treat patients with skin and soft tissue malignancies such as melanomas and sarcomas. I have a particular interest in cancers of the peritoneum, or those that have spread throughout the abdomen, and have been trained in performing heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy, or HIPEC, to help treat these rare cancers.

“Cancer patients should be examined regularly by their physicians”

What resources does NewYork- Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital provide for such ailments?

At NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital, we are committed to providing comprehensive cancer care for all patients. The experienced medical oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiation oncologists work together to develop a personalized treatment plan for every patient. In addition, we have a multidisciplinary tumor board which also includes radiologists, interventional radiologists, and pathologists, in which a patient’s case is discussed to develop the best course of action. Along with our team of experts, we have extensive support services in areas such as nutrition, pain management, and palliative care to provide a well-rounded approach to treating cancer patients.

How frequently should patients be examined?

Cancer patients should be examined regularly by their physicians.  Patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments are followed regularly based on the treatment regimen they are receiving.  This may be as frequent as weekly or every other week to every few months. Those who have had surgery are routinely followed every 3-4 months for the first two years and, depending on the type of cancer they have, the frequency of follow up can be spread out the farther they are from their surgery.

Are there any precautions, diet-related or otherwise, that people can take? Does the environment play a part?

“The strongest link has been sun exposure and the development of melanoma”

Though there hasn’t been any strong evidence to link a particular diet or food to causing specific cancer, it is recommended that patients maintain a healthy weight and diet and participate in a regular physical activity. Regarding the environment, the strongest link has been sun exposure and the development of melanoma, therefore the use of sunscreen is strongly recommended.

What’s the research to date about the relationship of stress to malignancies?

Although stress can cause a number of health problems, both mentally and physically, there hasn’t been any strong evidence linking stress to developing cancers.

Dr. Melanie Ongchin’s general surgery/surgical oncology practice is located at New York-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital, and she sees patients on the 11th Floor of the Patient Care Center at 156 William Street.

For an appointment with Dr. Ongchin, please call 646-962-5121.