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Paul Sugarbaker, M.D.

Dr. Paul Sugarbaker is a leading expert in mesothelioma and comes from a family of surgeons and mesothelioma specialists. His work in treating peritoneal mesothelioma and other cancers of the abdominal cavity and digestive tract have earned him world-wide recognition and even procedures named for his innovation.

Currently the Director of Surgical Oncology at the Washington Cancer Institute in Washington D.C.’s Washington Hospital Center, Dr. Sugarbaker has also held positions at Emory University School of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute. He has been in his current position since 1993 and also has a private practice called Sugarbaker Oncology Associates.

Education and Training

Dr. Sugarbaker’s education began with an undergraduate degree from Wheaton College in Illinois. He completed medical school and earned his medical degree at Cornell University Medical College. While completing his surgical residency at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Dr. Sugarbaker was named the Surgical Chief Resident. He completed a fellowship at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital. He also earned a master’s degree in immunology at Harvard.

Career in Surgical Oncology

His first position after completing medical and surgical training was in research as well as clinical practice. Dr. Sugarbaker worked as a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute and was also the Head of Colorectal Cancer Section in the Surgery Branch. From Bethesda, Maryland, Dr. Sugarbaker went on to a position as Director of Surgical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine. He then returned to Washington and became the Director of Surgical Oncology and Medical Director at the Washington Cancer Institute and Washington Hospital Center.

Throughout his career Dr. Sugarbaker has worked as a surgical oncologist, researching, treating, and innovating patient care for cancer. He came to specialize in a number of specific types of cancer, procedures, and research projects. These include gastrointestinal surgical oncology, cytoreductive surgery, perioperative intraperitoneal and intravenous chemotherapy, appendix cancer, peritoneal metastases, peritoneal surface malignancies, and peritoneal mesothelioma.

The Sugarbaker Procedure

One of Dr. Sugarbaker’s most notable accomplishments in patient treatment and research is the surgical and medical procedure named in his honor: the Sugarbaker procedure, also referred to as heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy. He was the first clinician to use the procedure, which involves performing cytoreductive surgery to remove the bulk of tumors in the abdominal cavity of a patient with peritoneal mesothelioma. After the surgery, heated chemotherapy drugs are circulated through the abdomen, targeting any remaining cancer cells. This is different from the standard way of delivering chemotherapy intravenously and is more targeted and specific.

The Sugarbaker Procedure is now used in many mesothelioma treatment facilities across the country. The procedure, and Dr. Sugarbaker, has been credited with extending the life expectancies of peritoneal mesothelioma patients, up to five years or more. Those who have especially benefited from the procedure have been younger patients and female patients.

Professional Organizations, Honors, and Achievements

Over such a long and prestigious career, Dr. Sugarbaker has earned a number of awards, accomplished many milestones, and has been involved in numerous professional organizations. These include being a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and a member of the Society of Surgical Oncology, the European Society of Surgical Oncology, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Surgical Association. He also helped to found the International Society of Regional Cancer Therapy.

Dr. Sugarbaker founded a nonprofit organization called the Foundation for Applied Research in Gastrointestinal Oncology and has served as an editor for several academic journals. He has been noted as one of America’s Top Doctors for Cancer multiple years in a row as well as one of America’s Top Doctors and a Compassionate Doctor. He was given the Distinguished Service Award from the American Society of Abdominal Surgeons and the E.T. Krementz Award for research development.

With his long and distinguished career, Dr. Sugarbaker has made a name for himself in more ways than one. He has a procedure named for him, but more importantly to this dedicated surgeon and doctor, he has helped extend and even save the lives of so many patients who believed they had no hope going forward, of ever beating their cancer, patients who were turned away by other surgeons.

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