Philip J. DiSaia

Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology
School of Medicine

M.D., Tufts University

Phone: (714) 456-5220
Fax: (714) 456-6632

University of California, Irvine
333 City Boulevard West, Suite 1400
Mail Code: 3200
Mail Code: 3200
Orange, CA 92868

Gynecologic Oncology

Ovarian carcinoma is the fourth most common cause of cancer related death in women in the United States. Many patients with advanced disease (stage III and IV) initially respond to standard therapies, as evident by second look laparotomies. Unfortunately, up to 50% of these patients with negative laparotomies will have recurrences and ultimately succumb to their disease. As a result, it is necessary to develop improved diagnostic and therapeutic methods which offer the possibility of early detection and more effective eradication of the disease. Dr. DiSaia has dedicated the past 30 years of his professional life to the study of this disease and other gynecologic cancers, and identifying better methods for prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment.


After five years of intensive work, Dr. DiSaia and other colleagues in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Hamilton have developed the world's first experimental model of ovarian epithelial cancer using a spontaneously arising non-immunogenic serous papillary adenocarcinoma in the Fischer 344 rat. This tumor designated NUTU-19 is histologically analogous to the most common ovarian epithelial cancer. This model mimics the human counterpart. The current aim, is to continue immunologic studies with cytokine secreting clones in an effort to develop effective immunotherapy for women with ovarian cancer.

Dr. DiSaia's other research work includes Estrogen replacement therapy in breast cancer survivors. He and his colleagues are evaluating the outcome of over 130 breast cancer survivors who have elected hormone replacement therapy. This topic is of particular significance given the substantial number of young women rendered menopausal by chemotherapeutic agents and postmenopausal women with breast cancer. The concept that estrogen replacement might activate tumor growth in occult metastatic sites of breast cancer and promote a rash of recurrences is not evident in this study, the largest case series in the world. The research group will extend its study to match these patients with non -hormone replacement therapy users from the Southern California Population Registry to compare outcomes between these two groups.

Dr. DiSaia's research interests and work also include the use of intravenous TNF for advanced endometrial and ovarian carcinoma, BCG in conjunction with chemotherapy for advanced ovarian carcinoma, the use of interferon with combination chemotherapy for advanced ovarian carcinoma, the use of reverse cell resistance for treatment of refractory ovarian carcinoma, the relationship between BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and outcome in ovarian carcinoma, and the use of Photomedicine techniques such as photodynamic therapy and in vivo florescence detection using a localizing photosensitizer as novel interventions in ovarian cancer patients.

Dr. DiSaia and his colleagues are studying the clinical correlation of the novel MN biomarker in cervical carcinoma. The expression of the protein product of the MN gene and of intestinal alkaline phosphatase is closely correlated with the tumorigenicity of HeLa x fibroblast hybrids. The group has studied the expression of these biomarkers in conjunction with HPV status. The clinicopathologic correlates of the MN biomarker expression in cervical cancer, the expression of the MN expression in Pap smears associated with clinical regression of dysplasia, and the role of MN in tumorigenesis and the regulation of MN expression have been studied. Dr. DiSaia's collaborative work in biological response modifiers dates back to 1968, when he first began working with C-parvum in both ovarian and cervix cancer. He is currently researching the possibility of producing TIL-like cells in culture for therapeutic use in patients with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer. Another current project is the study of TNF-LT blocking factors found in the ascites of patients with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer. Preliminary studies suggest that this marker may be a very sensitive diagnostic tool for the future.
Publications Integrated genomic analyses of ovarian carcinoma. The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network. Nature, vol 474, June 2011.
  Integrated genomic analyses of ovarian carcinoma. The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network. Nature, vol 474, June 2011.
  Pinn-Bingham M., Puthawala, A., Syed, A.M. Nisar, Sharmam A., Di Saia, PJ, Berman, M., Tewari, K., Randall-Whittis, L., Ramsinghani, N., Kuo, J., Chen, Wen-Pin, McLaren, CE. Long-Term Results of High-Dose-Rate Interstitial Brachytherapy in the Treatment of Carcinoma of the Cervix. 2012
  Keefe K, Chahine EB, DiSaia PJ, Krasieva TB, Lin F, Berns MW, Tadir Y. Fluorescence detection of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia for photodynamic therapy with the topical agents 5-aminolevulinic acid and benzoporphyrin-derivative monoacid ring. Am J Obstet Gynecol 184(6):1164-1169, 2001.
  Suriano KA, McHale M, McLaren CE, Li K-T, Re A, DiSaia PJ. Estrogen Replacement Therapy in Endometrial Cancer Patients: A Matched Control Study. Obstetrics & Gynecology 97(4): 555-560, 2001.
  Tewari KS, Cappuccini F, Puthawala AA, Kuo JV, Burger RA, Monk BJ, Manetta A, Berman ML, DiSaia PJ, Syed AMN. Primary Invasive Carcinoma of the Vagina. Treatment with Interstitial Brachytherapy. Cancer 91(4): 758-770, 2001.
  Gillette NC, Re A, McHale MT, Burger RA, DiSaia PJ, Rose GS, Campbell KCM, Fan H. Evaluation of D-Methionine as a Cytoprotectant in Cisplatin Treatment of an Animal Model for Ovarian Cancer. Anticancer Research 20: 4205-4210, 2000.
  DiSaia PJ, Brewster WR, Ziogas A, Anton-Culver H. Breast Cancer Survival and Hormone Replacement Therapy. A Cohort Analysis. Am J Clin Oncol (CCT) 23(6): 41-545, 2000.
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Last updated 10/26/2016