Dr. N. Joseph Espat, MS, FACS
Chairman of Surgery, Chief of Surgical Oncology
Roger Williams Medical Center
1. At Roger Williams Cancer Center, you have a number of team members who specialize in Hepato-Pancreatic Biliary oncology surgery — What is that?
Our Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Biliary (known as HPB in medical circles) surgery team specializes in procedures for the treatment of benign and cancerous conditions of the liver, bile ducts and pancreas. There are three HPB oncology surgeons at Roger Williams: Dr. Ponnandai Somasundar, Dr. Steven Katz and myself. We each completed surgical oncology fellowships with special training in HPB procedures. The stress accompanying a cancer diagnosis is real, which is why new patients can be seen within twenty-four hours by calling 401-456-2077. Patients can also visit our website at www.weknowcancer.org to learn more about our approach to treating cancer.
2. What are the cancers of the liver?
Cancers of the liver are either primary (meaning they begin in the liver), like hepatocellular cancer and cholangiocarcinoma, or metastatic (beginning somewhere else), like cancer of the colon or other organs. There are several treatment combinations and sequences of treatments, so being evaluated by experts from the beginning is very important. At Roger Williams Cancer Center, we embrace a multi-disciplinary approach where a highly experienced team of clinicians collaborate to ensure the best possible outcomes.
3. How are these liver cancers surgically treated?
Contrary to even ten years ago, many primary or metastatic liver tumors can be surgically removed today. This is due mainly to advances in technology and treatment. In many patients, tumors can be removed laparoscopically by an experienced surgical team like the one at Roger Williams. Our Cancer Center surgical team is the only one in Rhode Island with experienced laparoscopic liver surgeons who are also recognized national and international authorities on liver tumors.
4. What about patients that can’t have a liver resection?
Caring for a patient with a cancer diagnosis is a team effort. We employ every tool available from our operating rooms to treatment areas like radiation oncology to our research laboratories. Roger Williams is a national leader in immunotherapy trials for liver tumors, multidisciplinary treatments like yttrium 90 internal radiation, stereotactic radiosurgery, and cutting edge systemic chemotherapy, which are all available to patients when appropriate. The volume of treatment options and choices can be overwhelming for patients and caregivers. That is why we work to coordinate multiple appointments during a single visit since all cancer specialties are centrally located in the same building.
5. What about tumors of the pancreas?
Our HPB surgical oncology team is one of the largest and most experienced in New England when it comes to treating patients with all stages of pancreatic cancer. These are very complex operations that require an entire team of cancer specialists. In addition to expert surgeons, these complex surgeries bring interventional radiologists, gastroenterologists, medical and radiation oncologists, and experienced clinical staff together to focus on the best outcomes for each patient. We have built this team specifically to offer the highest quality cancer surgery and care to patients in our region.