Surgical Oncology

The Division of Surgical Oncology at Michigan Medicine treats cancer by treating the whole person, offering comprehensive diagnosis, counseling, patient support, and expert surgical care for cancers of the breast, skin & soft tissues and gastrointestinal system. Beyond the clinic, we’re gaining a better understanding of how cancer develops and progresses, and pursuing novel treatments. As educators, we offer advanced training in cancer treatment for the next generation of surgeon leaders.

Our approach to cancer treatment partners multiple experts to deliver multidisciplinary care in the treatment of breast cancer, skin cancer, sarcoma and cancer of the stomach. We are committed to providing high quality, state-of-the-art care while recognizing the importance of a patient-centered approach. Our unique Cancer Survivorship Clinics provide ongoing support for cancer survivors, offering symptom management and consultation for all aspects of a patient’s physical and mental health.

We’re organized around a series of multidisciplinary clinical programs, including:

  • A Breast Care Center: Our center for the treatment of breast cancer and other breast conditions incorporates multiple support programs in addition to expert medical and surgical treatment, including patient education, peer counseling, psychological support, and integrative medicine. We also work with colleagues in endocrinology and obstetrics & gynecology to provide consultation to patients seeking to preserve their fertility, post-treatment.
  • A Gastric Cancer Clinic: This clinic provides care for stomach cancer, organizing patient care through a single point of contact to improve efficiency and convenience for patients.
  • A Melanoma Clinic: This high-volume clinic sees more than 1,500 patients a year, making it one of the leading melanoma centers in the world. Our team includes dermatologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, and other experts.
  • A Sarcoma Clinic: We treat sarcomas of the bone and soft tissue, seeing more than 200 cases each year of this rare form of cancer. This experience sets us apart as.
  • A Thoracic Oncology Clinic: Treating cancers of the lungs, chest wall, and esophagus, this clinic provides patients with multiple expert opinions through a multidisciplinary tumor board that assesses cases to determine the best course of action.

Our approach to clinical care also emphasizes innovative use of technology in support of patient education. For example, we’ve developed three mobile apps — UMSkinCheck, Breast Cancer Ally, and Melanoma Ally — to help patients navigate the complexities of cancer treatment, helping them to feel empowered by information instead of overwhelmed.

Education

The Division of Surgical Oncology is an integral part of the University of Michigan General Surgery residency, and remains committed to the education of medical students and residents in the treatment of breast disease, skin and soft tissue tumors, and gastric cancer. The University of Michigan Breast Care Fellowship is one of the top programs in the country, emphasizing advancement to clinical independence in addition to unique opportunities in clinical and translational research. Rotations include cancer genetics, community service and outreach, rehabilitative medicine, psycho-oncology, and fertility preservation, as well as opportunities to work in our outreach clinic in Flint, Michigan.

Research

From laboratory science to new clinical treatments, we study and treat cancer from all angles. Our current research interests include:

  • Clinical trials to study the use of cryoablation (freezing cancer) as an alternative to surgery for patients with early-stage breast cancer. In addition to the multiple clinical benefits, we are studying how cryoablation may also stimulate an anti-tumor immune response in the body.
  • Understanding the relationship between the immune system and cancer stem cells, with a goal of advancing a cancer stem cell vaccine to the clinical trial stage.
  • Testing a tiny implantable device that is designed to catch cancer cells in the body’s bloodstream before they become tumors, allowing for more targeted therapy and potentially helping to prevent cancer recurrence.
  • Defining the mechanisms by which immune cells influence the formation and growth of pancreatic cancer, in order to develop new treatment approaches for patients with this aggressive cancer.

Learn more about research in the Section of General Surgery, including in Surgical Oncology →