Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center has been serving communities for over 50 years, remaining steadfast in providing the highest-quality patient care on the Northshore for decades. State-of-the-art technology and comprehensive services keep our team 100% focused on cancer and a continued effort to set a higher standard of care. Our expert physicians play an important role in the unique and individualized care provided to each patient. Get to know a little more about those experts.
Dr. Faizan Malik, medical oncologist in Covington, is board certified in hematology, medical oncology and internal medicine. Together with Northshore Oncology Associates, Dr. Malik is one of many great physicians at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center helping improve the standard of care on the Northshore.
Tell us a little about you, your background and where you are from.
My parents are originally from Pakistan, and I was born in Dubai. I attended medical school at King Edward Medical University, which is the oldest medical institution in Pakistan where I received a Bachelor of Medicine as well as a Bachelor of Surgery. I then completed clinical rotations at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Fox Chase Cancer Center, as well as a residency at Abington Jefferson Health, all in Pennsylvania. I also completed hematology oncology fellowship training at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
How did you end up in Covington, Louisiana?
I was ready to move away from the cold and snow and was drawn to Louisiana and the abundance of activities in and around New Orleans. The culture is unique and Southern hospitality is a definite bonus. I also wanted the opportunity to work with Dr. Jack Saux who has been practicing medical oncology for more than 20 years.
What hobbies or interests do you have outside of work?
I enjoy traveling and simple activities like going to the movies and local restaurants. I also have a more adventurous side and enjoy the outdoors. Going hiking, skydiving and scuba diving are exciting.
How would your family and friends describe you?
I hope they would say friendly and easy to talk to. Ha! I think they would say I’m funny and fun to be around. Also compassionate and loving. I love to learn and am passionate about things I invest time into, including the people around me.
When did you know you wanted to go into the medical field and why did you decide to pursue medical oncology?
During the second year of my residency, I was taking oncology electives. I had close encounters with oncology patients and that really solidified my decision to specialize in this field. I love the science involved in medical oncology. It’s an ever-changing field and very dynamic. The guidelines are constantly changing, thanks to clinical trials. The research and information we receive from clinical trials are the driving force to enhancing the standard cancer treatments year after year.
I love that medical oncology also allows me to develop a close relationship with patients. You really bond with them and become part of patients’ families.
In your own words, what is hematology oncology?
Clinically, hematology is studying blood, organs that form blood and blood diseases. I see it as a diagnostic challenge. There is investigative work that must be done, sometimes with very rare and complex diseases. With oncology, this means blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.
Oncology is treating and providing medical care for someone diagnosed with cancer. With research in the field, we continuously work toward making treatments more effective and improving survivorship.
Hematology oncology to me really means curing some who are in the early stages of cancer and also walking the journey with patients who are in later stages of cancer.
What makes Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center unique from other cancer care facilities? How does the Cancer Center demonstrate clinical excellence?
At the Cancer Center, there is physician autonomy. There is a more patient-centered approach to treatment through comprehensive care planning. This means doctors from all disciplines work together to ensure the best plan of action specific to each patient that is diagnosed. Each patient has unique needs and unique circumstances, and a multidisciplinary approach creates a personalized course of care and treatment for each individual.
What does a typical day look like for you at the Cancer Center?
I enjoy interacting with all of my patients, and I see patients all day. I also attend different tumor boards and conferences where a variety of specialists and other healthcare providers will collaborate on cancer cases that may be unusual, less common or challenging. This is part of the comprehensive approach to ensure patients receive the best treatment plan.
I also attend conferences about once per month that may be elsewhere in the state or across the country.
When you meet with patients for the first time, what is your main concern or priority?
When I meet with patients, I focus on connecting with them and building a relationship. I want to know about them, their personality, their family and history. When you have a good personal connection, it makes cancer care an extremely difficult situation easier for everyone.
What do you hope that patients get out of their experience and treatment when working with you?
I hope that they get the best treatment they can possibly have and ultimately the best outcome.
I also want to be their friend. I hope they see me as a good friend they can rely on and someone who will care for them during and after their experience at the Cancer Center.
What are some areas of focus in cancer care that you find interesting? Why do you find these areas interesting?
I have a lot of interests when it comes to cancer care! I am intrigued by lung and breast cancer, because these are more common and there is a lot of interesting research in targeted therapy and immunotherapy for these diseases.
The prognoses for cancers such as lymphoma, myeloma and genitourinary (related to genital and urinary organs are usually very good, and it’s nice to develop long-term relationships with the patients. On the opposite end, when it comes to gastroenterology, a lot of upper GI cancers may not have a good prognosis if caught in later stages. This encourages me and my colleagues to continue research and working toward the ultimate goal of finding cures.
How do you see cancer care changing in the next 10 years? 20 years?
Genomics is growing and will definitely get bigger. There is a lot of gene studying going on to help predict diseases and ultimately diagnose and treat diseases more precisely.
Gene editing is going to be big also, altering DNA to hopefully improve and correct mutations that cause diseases. Many cancers are caused by a pathway upregulation – a point where disease-causing mutations at the cell level can increase. With gene editing, these point mutations can be changed to potentially cure cancer.
What is an area you hope to positively impact during your career?
I love this community, and I love focusing on community care and bringing the best of academics to the people here. I hope to continue impacting local cancer care by bringing the advanced research and knowledge from across the world to continue enhancing the standard of care at the Cancer Center.
Learn more about the experts in Covington at www.marybird.org/covington. Call (985) 614-7871 to speak with someone and make an appointment today.