Patient Care & Services

Patient Care & Services

The Division of Surgical Oncology has extensive experience in the surgical management of cancer. The expertise of divisional faculty encompasses malignancies ranging from the routine (nonmelanoma cancers of the skin) to the highly complex (liver and pancreatic tumors, cancers requiring extensive multiorgan resections). The division is committed to a multidisciplinary approach to cancer management. All members participate in regular cancer conferences with colleagues and associates in Radiation Oncology, Medical Oncology, Diagnostic Radiology, Pathology, Social Services, Psychology and Psychiatry (through the UM/Sylvester’s Courtelis Center), Rehabilitation Therapy and Dietetics.

The longstanding association of the University of Miami School of Medicine with Jackson Memorial Hospital has enabled this Medical Center and our division to offer patients the most advanced and latest techniques and technology, in addition to providing a superb educational environment for physicians in training. The surgical oncology division has access to and participates in research in positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), spiral CT scanning, endoscopic ultrasound techniques, lymphatic mapping, tumor imaging with radiolabeled antitumor antibodies, and invasive radiology techniques. All of these modalities contribute significantly to precise tumor staging and imaging, and thereby allow the surgical oncologist to select the treatment most likely to result in cure and control of the tumor for the individual patient.

The Surgical Oncology Division has special expertise in the following areas:

Breast Cancer
Each year in the United States, more than 190,000 new cases of breast cancer are reported. But, thanks to earlier detection and improved treatments, survival rates have increased dramatically. Mammography and other newly developed diagnostic techniques allow breast cancers to be detected before they cause any physical symptoms.

New molecular genetic findings also have allowed experts to identify those women at greatest risk for developing the disease. Additionally, oncologists now have the ability to tailor treatment to give individual patients the best chance of cure for their particular breast cancers. In fact, there are more than 1.6 million breast cancer survivors in the United States today due in part to better diagnosis, treatments, and increasing knowledge about breast cancer.

Melanoma
Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment-producing cells of the skin. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, but if it is diagnosed and removed at an early stage, the cure rate is high. However, if it is diagnosed late, spread of the disease is more likely to occur.

Melanoma can appear anywhere on the skin surface. Melanoma can develop in a pre-existing mole, or arise on normal-appearing skin. Melanoma is suspected when a “mole” looks uneven in terms of its border, shape, or color.

Gastrointestinal Cancers
Gastrointestinal cancers include cancer of the liver, pancreas, esophagus, small intestine, colon, rectum or anus. Each patient is evaluated by a team of professionals comprised of a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, thoracic surgeon, gastroenterologist and a nutritionist. Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, various treatment options are available. These include surgery, radiation or chemotherapy or a combination of these.

Soft Tissue Sarcomas
The Division has extensive experience in the treatment of soft tissue sarcomas. Sarcomas are rare malignant tumors diagnosed in approximately 8,900 individuals each year in this country. The Surgical Oncology Division treats mostly extremity sarcomas and retroperitoneal sarcomas. These are treated in a multi-modality fashion with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, depending on the site. Treatment of extremity sarcomas is undertaken using limb-sparing surgery. Abdominal sarcomas generally require complex multi-organ resections. Due to improved knowledge, more research and better technology, the survival rate climbs higher each year.

Primary Peritoneal Malignancies
Primary peritoneal malignancies are a group of rare cancers involving the lining of the abdominal cavity. Cancers in this category include pseudomyxoma peritonei, cancer of the appendix, and cancer of the ovaries. Treatment of primary peritoneal malignancies is a highly specialized field and is carried out at only a few centers across the United States. The most effective treatment involves surgical debulking of the tumor followed by intraperitoneal hyperthermic chemoperfusion (HIPEC). Follow-up data show that patients who undergo this treatment live longer and have a better quality of life. The Division of Surgical Oncology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine was the first in South Florida to provide HIPEC as part of a comprehensive treatment program for primary peritoneal malignancies.

The Division of Surgical Oncology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, was the first to perform the procedure, an intraperitoneal hyperthermic chemoperfusion (HIPEC) in South Florida. offering abdominal cancer patients a novel therapy that combines heat and chemotherapy. The procedure is administered during surgery and has extended the lives and improved the quality of life to patients with certain types of advanced abdominal cancer who might otherwise have limited treatment options. 

HIPEC is used to treat patients with cancer that has spread to the abdominal cavity usually from primary colon, appendix, gastrointestinal and ovarian cancer.  It is also used to treat Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, a rare malignant disorder characterized by the accumulation of mucus-secreting tumor cells in the abdominal region. 

The HIPEC procedure is performed immediately following surgery in the operating room. Once the surgeon has removed the tumor, a sterile solution containing chemotherapeutic agents heated to 106 degrees fahrenheit is circulated throughout the abdominal cavity for a period of two hours using a system called the ThermoChem HT. ThermoChem delivers the heated chemotherapy directly to the abdominal cavity in a very targeted and precise rate.

Five-year data shows patients undergoing this treatment live longer and have a better quality of life. In addition, HIPEC has been shown to improve the quality of life for those suffering from this type of cancer. Fluid-producing cells can create large volumes of fluid in the abdomen area that can make eating and lying down very uncomfortable. HIPEC has been shown to be effective at destroying these cells, thus improving the quality of life for these patients.