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More About Mesothelioma Specialist Dr. Paul Sugarbaker
Dr. Paul Sugarbaker is the head of Sugarbaker Oncology Associates. He was the director of the Center for Surgical Oncology at the Washington Cancer Institute. This facility is part of the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., where he was the leading surgeon treating patients with peritoneal mesothelioma.
He no longer accepts new patients but still helps his existing ones with limited follow‑ups. He will continue to be active in research.
As the son of a doctor, Dr. Sugarbaker was groomed to become one himself. He was brother to the late David Sugarbaker, a pleural mesothelioma surgeon. This brother duo pushed the limits of treating mesothelioma.
In the 1980s, Dr. Paul Sugarbaker fought to develop his signature treatment method, known now as the Sugarbaker Procedure. It combines cytoreductive surgery and heated chemotherapy. The heated chemotherapy is known by the acronym HIPEC. It delivers heated chemotherapy medication into the abdomen.
- Medical Degree from Cornell University Medical College in New York, 1967
- Residency in general surgery at Peter Bent Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 1967‑1974
- Founding member of the International Society of Regional Cancer Therapy
- Founded the nonprofit Foundation for Applied Research in Gastrointestinal Oncology
Dr. Sugarbaker’s Treatment Plan
The Sugarbaker Procedure is named after Dr. Sugarbaker in honor of his experience in and influence on the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma. This cancer is especially harmful because of how hard it is to catch in the early stages.
Many high‑volume facilities have a median survival of 5‑6 years after complete cytoreductive surgery. Recurrence also reduces thanks to the Sugarbaker Procedure, largely due to implementing HIPEC for microscopic tumors.
The Steps of the Sugarbaker Procedure
Cytoreduction — Once the patient is put under, an incision is made in the center of the abdomen to provide access to the cancerous region of the abdomen. Doctors remove the omentum plus some organs, such as the spleen. Doctors may also remove part or all of the peritoneal lining, a procedure called a peritonectomy.
HIPEC (Heated Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy) — After the cancerous material is removed from the abdomen, the next step is sending heated chemotherapy drugs into the abdomen. This part of the procedure takes 60‑90 minutes and aims to eliminate microscopic mesothelioma cells left behind. The purpose is to prevent recurrence.
This process is tedious and takes up to 10 hours to complete. Cytoreduction is a complicated procedure because it involves examining all the organs in the abdomen for tumors.
Adding NIPEC to Treatment
Since its inception, the Sugarbaker Procedure has evolved with adjuvant steps. Dr. Sugarbaker is a proponent of NIPEC, a type of mesothelioma chemotherapy. Normothermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy is a dwell chemotherapy. It occurs weeks or months after the surgery and initial HIPEC. The drugs sit in the abdomen for up to 24 hours.
Dr. Sugarbaker reported a 75% five‑year survival rate for select patients undergoing cytoreduction, HIPEC and NIPEC.
Many peritoneal mesothelioma patients credit Dr. Sugarbaker with the success of their treatment.
Peritoneal mesothelioma survivor Alexis Kidd is a testament to the Sugarbaker Procedure. She had a life‑saving cytoreduction with HIPEC overseen by Dr. Sugarbaker back in 2009.
His willingness to work with my oncologist and surgeons half the country away gave me a fighting chance against my unusual progression of mesothelioma. Without him and his work, there would have been little hope for me. Now there is all of the hope in the world.”
Sources & Author
- Normothermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy long term (NIPEC-LT) in the management of peritoneal surface malignancy, an overview. Pleura and Peritoneum. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6405030/. Accessed: 07/28/2021.
- Unusually Favorable Outcome of 6 Consecutive Patients With Diffuse Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma Treated With Repeated Doses of Intraperitoneal Paclitaxel. A Case Series. Surgical Oncology. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32561104/. Accessed: 06/22/2020.
- Sugarbaker Oncology Associates. Retrieved from: https://www.sugarbakeroncology.com/. Accessed: 08/30/2021.