The Medical College of Wisconsin Division of Surgical Oncology is widely recognized for research and educational programs, as well as leadership in cancer surgery for breast, liver, pancreas, skin, stomach, biliary and endocrine diseases. We also focus on rare tumors (e.g., sarcomas) and management of complex tumors, such as carcinomatosis. Our surgeons utilize the latest in novel therapies and function in multidisciplinary programs to provide compassionate care of the highest quality. We encourage you to learn more about the clinical care, research activities and education programs of the Division of Surgical Oncology.
About Surgical Oncology in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
At Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, the only academic medical center in eastern Wisconsin, nationally and internationally recognized surgeons work collaboratively to provide state-of-the-art, personalized care. Surgeons in the Division of Surgical Oncology are part of 13 disease-specific, multidisciplinary, organ-based cancer programs at the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center. We are among the highest-volume surgeons in Wisconsin and the country. The level of care provided by our programs has led patients to travel great distances to receive treatment.
The mission of the Division of Surgical Oncology is to promote excellence in patient care, scientific research and education. We strive to lead the region and nation as role models in these disciplines and are committed to training the next generation of surgical leaders. Our actions embody our core values of compassion, integrity, respect and excellence.
In addition to dedicated clinical excellence, the physicians of the Division of Surgical Oncology participate in national and international clinical trials that offer novel, cutting-edge therapies for patients. Our researchers have also been recognized with funding from the National Institutes of Health for unique approaches to cancer care. Patients seen by our surgeons are presented in multidisciplinary forums attended by medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, radiologists, pathologists and others. These discussions allow us to focus on the entire treatment plan (rather than only a surgical procedure) and provide patients with the resource of hospital-wide input. Clearly, our comprehensive approach provides recommendations in an insightful and progressive manner.
The Division of Surgical Oncology’s commitment to leading the nation in physician education is evident through its rich history of general surgery training and fellowships. Advanced training in endocrine and liver/pancreas surgery are two of the most coveted fellowship positions in the country and provide a format to educate and empower the next generation.
We are committed to treating our patients as we would our family members and to pressing on with an indefatigable spirit in the fight against cancer.
Breast surgery is part of a multidisciplinary approach focusing on individualized care for patients with benign and malignant breast diseases. When women consult with one of our breast surgeons, surgical options are discussed and tailored around each patient’s disease and her desires.
We are dedicated to providing the most oncologic and aesthetic surgical procedures, including skin-sparing and nipple-sparing mastectomies, as well as breast-conserving surgery using oncoplastic surgical techniques. For patients who undergo mastectomy, our surgeons work in conjunction with plastic surgeons to perform reconstruction either at the same time as the mastectomy or in a delayed fashion. A minimally invasive sentinel node biopsy procedure is performed on appropriately selected cancer patients to evaluate for spread of disease to the lymph nodes. We also offer regional anesthesia to decrease pain after breast surgery.
Our breast surgical oncologists participate in multiple national cooperative group clinical trials (National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, American College of Surgeons Oncology Group) and investigator-initiated trials to improve patient outcomes.
Medical College of Wisconsin endocrine surgeons are dedicated to providing comprehensive, state-of-the-art care to patients with sporadic or familial endocrine tumors of the thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands.
Our surgeons all belong to the prestigious American Association of Endocrine Surgeons and are among the highest-volume endocrine surgeons in the country. We are devoted to providing innovative surgical care to our patients, including the use of recurrent laryngeal nerve monitoring in patients undergoing cervical endocrine procedures. Patients with primary hyperparathyroidism undergo preoperative localization imaging to maximize the chances of performing a minimally invasive parathyroidectomy where patients have smaller scars and less pain. All parathyroidectomies are performed using a nine minute intraoperative parathyroid hormone assay; select patients may be eligible for outpatient surgery and for parathyroidectomy using regional anesthesia with a surgeon-administered superficial cervical block.
Our surgeons are also trained to perform minimally invasive (laparoscopic) adrenalectomy via the transabdominal or retroperitoneal approach. The retroperitoneal approach is ideal for patients with previous abdominal surgery and for patients requiring bilateral adrenalectomy; it is performed by only a few medical centers in the country.
We are also committed to improving the understanding of the science of endocrine disease via ongoing clinical research, which includes prospectively collected patient databases and investigator-initiated clinical trials.
Our surgeons are leaders in the field and focus on evaluating all facets of liver cancer. This includes tumors that spread to the liver (metastatic), as well as tumors that originate in the liver (primary liver cancer).
Decisions regarding the management of liver cancer are complex, and surgical resection should only be performed by an experienced team. Early primary liver cancers may be eligible for liver transplantation, which carries a dual benefit by addressing the cancer, as well as often-present cirrhosis. Careful selection may also enable some patients to undergo laparoscopic liver surgery. This approach carries a benefit of less pain and shorter length of stay. The liver is the only organ in the body that can regenerate, allowing for extensive resections in select cases. Strategies also exist to expand the group of patients who would benefit from resection. These approaches include initial systemic chemotherapy, portal vein embolization, two stage liver resection, and hepatic artery directed therapy. It is very rare that a patient with liver cancer is not a candidate for some form of therapy.
Clinical trials as well as basic science research are a strong interest of the liver surgery team, which offers unique, important treatment options.
The pancreatic surgery team focuses on providing cutting-edge therapy for patients with malignant pancreatic disease. Our surgeons are international authorities in the treatment of pancreatic cancer and offer patients experienced guidance in disease management.
Surgeon experience heavily influences a patient’s chances for improved outcome after surgery for pancreatic cancer. The team’s highly specialized surgeons have a proven track record in performing a variety of advanced pancreatic surgical techniques, including intraoperative ultrasound, pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple procedure), portal and superior mesenteric vein resection, and pancreas-sparing tumor resections.
Our surgeons work collaboratively with medical and radiation oncologists to develop innovative ways to combine these treatments, achieving optimal benefits.
Laparoscopic pancreatic surgery is also an option in select cases and offers an advantage of a shorter recovery time. In addition to pancreatic surgery for malignancy, some patients may develop benign or premalignant pancreatic conditions (cysts or pancreatitis). Through the use of sophisticated endoscopy and imaging, we select patients who draw benefit from pancreatic surgery.
General Surgical Oncology
In addition to the most common treatments, innovative therapies are available for treatment of melanoma, sarcoma and other rare tumors. Our team offers a wealth of experience in the challenging disease of melanoma and provides eligible patients with further options through clinical trials. From diagnosis to treatment with excision and staging sentinel lymph node biopsy, our team is available to provide comprehensive care. Sarcoma is one example of a rare tumor we often manage. Cases are presented in a multidisciplinary tumor board to explore all available therapies, thus maximizing the potential for prolonged survival or cure. Combination therapies involving surgery with radiation or chemotherapy are often required.
Our physicians also have expertise in treating patients with peritoneal spread of their cancers (carcinomatosis) with hyperthermic chemoperfusion therapy (HIPEC). HIPEC removes advanced cancers from the abdomen and treats patients with heated chemotherapy during the same operation. This novel approach is only available in a limited number of medical centers.
A Patient-Centered, Whole Person Approach
The diagnosis and treatment of cancer represents one of the most stressful times a patient and his or her family will experience. At the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center, we streamline the treatment experience, grouping physicians, nurses and other clinical staff by the type of cancer they treat. Thus, patients access all caregivers they need through a single cancer team. We call this approach the “Hub Model,” because it puts the patient at the center, surrounded by a full complement of physicians and other experts, resources and support. Working in collaboration, we seek to optimize cancer symptom management and focus on the whole person.
At the Clinical Cancer Center, there is a hub team for each of 13 disease-specific cancer programs. For patients and their families, the benefits are completely coordinated treatment and a seamless care experience.
Quality of Life Center
The Jeffrey C. Siegel Quality of Life Center, located within the Clinical Cancer Center, offers cancer patients and families significant support. A full range of services are available, including:
- Nutrition Services
- Psych-oncology Services
- Social Services
- Chaplaincy Services
- Financial Counseling
- Genetic Counseling
- Smoking Cessation
Small Stones Wellness Center
The Small Stones Wellness Center (also located within the Clinical Cancer Center) provides special products and services to help patients cope with changes in appearance related to cancer and its treatment.
Our skilled and compassionate staff are devoted to personalized service. Products and services are safe and appropriate for cancer patients and may be integrated with medical care provided at the Clinical Cancer Center. They include complimentary skin care consultations, wigs, hair cuts, cosmetics, hats, scarves and head coverings, and natural nail care. The Center also offers books, CDs and other items tailored to the needs of cancer patients.
The nationally recognized Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Palliative Care Program, located within the Quality of Life Center in the Clinical Cancer Center, provides care for people with life-threatening diseases, including cancer. By concentrating on the patient and family as a unit, we are able to help manage distressing physical and emotional symptoms. This focus helps maximize quality of life and assists patients in living out their days in a way that allows them to reach their goals with the support of family.