Meet September Physician of the Month Kami Maddocks

The routine of September Physician of the Month Kami Maddocks is filled with research, clinical trials and an assortment of teaching and administrative duties.

“I enjoy everything I do, but my two favorite days of the week are my clinic days,” says Maddocks, MD, director of the lymphoma program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

“I have had the opportunity, here at The James, to establish long-term relationships with so many of my patients,” she explains. “In a lot of cases, I’ve been seeing them for five or more years and will be seeing them for the rest of their lives. I get to know them and their families and have the honor of celebrating some big life moments with them – weddings and anniversaries, the birth of babies and grandbabies.”

Born to Be a Doctor

Growing up in South Dakota, Maddocks knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a doctor. “When I was four or five, I started carrying around a beeper,” she says. “I think the idea came from my mother, Deb, who was a nurse on the cardio-pulmonary floor of the small local hospital.”

That early interest eventually led Maddocks to Ohio State in 2008 for a fellowship in hematology/oncology.

“I thought I’d be here for the three years of my fellowship and then move on to another hospital, in a warmer state,” Maddocks says. “But I never left.”

Collaboration Is the Key

What Maddocks enjoys so much about her work here at The James is the opportunity to do research and see patients in her clinic, as well as the chance to collaborate with the other members of hematology/oncology team, including “my phenomenal clinic team of advanced practice providers, physician assistants, nurses and pharmacists.”

“When I came here, The James already had a large hematology/oncology team with a great national reputation, and we’ve grown so much since then and continue to grow,” she says.

Less Toxic Treatments

Maddocks’ research and clinical trials concentrate on finding less toxic and non-chemotherapy treatments for lymphoma patients, including targeted treatments and immunotherapy. Less toxicity reduces the side effects and improves the quality of life for patients during and after treatment.

“In just the last five or six years, we’ve seen the development and approval of more than 10 different targeted therapies, including six that are oral therapies and four antibody therapies,” says Maddocks, who specializes in treating patients with Hodgkin disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.

Immunotherapy: The Next Step

Immunotherapy, a treatment that enables the body’s immune system to better detect, target and kill cancer kills, has been a big breakthrough.

“There are several different types of immunotherapies that have been approved for lymphoma patients who have relapsed, or in combination with chemotherapy in frontline treatment. And we’re opening clinical trials to add immunotherapy to targeted therapies or other antibody therapies in an attempt to avoid chemotherapy completely in select patients,” Maddocks says. “The newest thing is CAR T-cell therapy. It’s already been approved for patients with relapsed aggressive large B-cell lymphomas, which is the most aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”

In CAR T, a patient’s T cells are removed, re-engineered and put back into the bloodstream. These new “super” T cells are better able to recognize the proteins on cancer cells and latch onto and destroy those that had formerly been able to “hide.”

“As we have more and more options, we have to determine what works best for each individual patient,” Maddocks explains. “Are we better off sequencing one treatment after the other, in a certain order, or are we better off combining them? What leads to a deeper and longer remission? I’m very hopeful and so optimistic about where we’ve come from in the past decade and where we’re headed. We’re curing more people and reducing the toxicity of treatments.”