A leader in mesothelioma surgery, Dr. Harpole treats many patients with pleural mesothelioma at Duke Cancer Institute each year.

About Dr. Harpole

Dr. Harpole is the vice chief of surgical services at Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, North Carolina. He is the leading mesothelioma specialist at this cancer center. With over 20 years experience in the surgical field, he is a top doctor for patients exploring surgical options.

  • Medical Degree and Residency

    MD, University of Virginia School of Medicine, 1984. Dr. Harpole completed residency at Duke University Medical Center from 1984 to 1991.

  • Professorship

    Professor of Surgery, Duke University School of Medicine

Dr. Harpole’s research has led him to be the authority on mesothelioma at Duke Cancer Institute. He treats patients with various types of thoracic malignancies, including pleural mesothelioma. He has a reputation for building relationships with patients, which is one of the many reasons people choose him as their doctor.

“I enjoy seeing my patients back 12, 13, 14 years later and hearing what they’ve been up to, what their family’s been up to. That’s a bond that you get in oncology that a lot of other fields don’t have.” —Dr. Harpole

Dr. Harpole was mentored by Dr. David Sugarbaker, who is widely considered to be the leading mesothelioma surgeon in the country. From 1993-1995, Dr. Harpole worked under Dr. Sugarbaker in a fellowship at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School and Brigham Women’s Hospital.

Toward the end of his fellowship at Brigham, he authored a study on the risk factors of extrapleural pneumonectomies (EPP) in patients with pleural mesothelioma. The study was co-authored by Dr. Sugarbaker and determined the procedure had acceptable rates of success.

Dr. Harpole’s Credentials

  • Head of mesothelioma treatment at Duke
  • Worked under Dr. Sugarbaker
  • Has authored 100+ clinical studies

Get Connected To Dr. David Harpole

Photograph of Dr Harpole
Dr. Harpole is the mesothelioma specialist at Duke Cancer Institute, one of the top-rated cancer centers in the world. He constantly contributes to research in the surgical and diagnostic fields.

Why Choose Dr. Harpole?
  • Provides life-extending treatment options
  • Over 20 years of surgical experience
  • Part of an elite team of specialists




Improving Surgical Management of Mesothelioma

As a surgeon, Dr. Harpole’s work primarily falls into efforts to make surgery more effective. He has worked to develop a risk evaluation model that more accurately determines which patients are eligible for surgery. He also has a clinical interest in developing mesothelioma biomarkers.

Dr. Harpole has been active in the debate over the efficacy of certain surgical treatments for mesothelioma. One of the main concerns in this debate is whether it’s more effective to administer chemotherapy or radiation before or after surgery. Research on treating mesothelioma with various multimodal methods is constantly underway.

Dr. Harpole found that administering intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with EPP led to approximately double the average mesothelioma prognosis of 9-12 months.

One study charged that chemotherapy and radiation after EPP is an acceptable form of treatment as long as the patients are capable of handling how aggressive it is. Patients who were observed in this study experienced an overall improvement in survival time.

This study also tacks on to his interest in developing a model to assess risk factors for patients considering surgery. This is an important part of treatment as surgery does not benefit all patients, and may actually have a negative impact on some. This highlights the importance of having an experienced doctor and why Dr. Harpole is a leader in that group. If you think surgery may be right for you, get connected with Dr. Harpole with our free Doctor Match program.

Meet Dr. David Harpole