IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Doctor Fell In Love With Oncology

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April 02, 2018

He was exploring career options when Dr. Costantine Albany decided to pursue medicine. That road took him to the only American institution in the Middle East – the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, a little over 200 miles away from his home in Syria. He initially thought he wanted to be a cardiologist, spending hours in the cardiac care unit and echo lab. But when his quest for academics brought him to the United States and he began a residency at St. Luke-Roosevelt, Columbia University’s program, he spent time training at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Center. That experience working with cancer patients, changed Dr. Albany’s focus.

“I fell in love with oncology,” said Dr. Albany, 38, who specializes in genitourinary cancers, prostate, testicular and bladder cancer. The American Cancer Society recognizes April as the month to promote testicular cancer awareness.

“I felt people with cancer really need help. When you hear the word cancer, it’s a real scare. So taking that fear out of the equation was where I wanted to work.” He joined IU Health under the mentorship of Dr. Lawrence Einhorn, known for developing an innovative treatment for testicular cancer that has dramatically improved outcomes for men diagnosed with the disease.

“I have the best mentor and support I could dream of to continue on this path and keep making progress for those with a poor prognosis of a disease,” said Dr. Albany.

The oldest of three children, Dr. Albany said he grew up in a home that encouraged learning. His father was a high school physics teacher for more than 50 years and taught multiple generations in the community.

“My parents always made a big deal out of academic achievements and successes. We spent a lot of time studying. I was always fascinated by science – fire and lights. I liked to take a magnifying glass and do experiments with candles.”

Back home, schools didn’t have a lot of emphasis on lab work, so Dr. Albany is continually curious about the opportunities for experimentation – technology, nature, and space – offered in classrooms in the United States.

His parents’ influence has carried over into Dr. Albany’s love of teaching and mentoring. He once had a Fishers High School student shadow him to learn about renal cell carcinoma and eagerly shares interesting findings and explains images to medical students, residents, and fellows.

“I really enjoy teaching. Medical students are our future,” said Dr. Albany. “My generation may not cure cancer but the next generation may, so the earlier you can introduce them to problems and solutions, the quicker they can begin thinking and responding.”

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More about Dr. Albany:

  • He has been married to Dr. Zhanna Albany for 10 years. They met during his residency in New York. They have a two-year-old son and twins on the way.
  • He fondly remembers his childhood home of Syria as a safe and vibrant town with lots of food, festivals and multicultural activities and hopes that it will one day recover from war in the Middle East.
  • His hobbies: He likes swimming, reading, kayaking, gardening and raising his chickens at his Hamilton County home.
  • His best day: “When I see someone that I was able to make a difference in their life – get to tell them the scans are better or their cancer is gone. I get to see their eyes, and know that I’ve made a difference.”
  • About the future of clinical trials: “It can be a great deal frustrating working with clinical trials but it can also give people hope. I put myself in the patient’s shoes and I don’t accept defeat. We are finding new drugs that are effective against cancer. It’s hugely rewarding to see those results.”

-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Banes via email at
T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

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