A Gifted New Surgical Oncologist at Middlesex Hospital
Dealing with cancer is a big challenge, and it requires sympathetic experts. Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, CT, has become a preeminent resource, by spreading news about advanced new screenings and diagnostics that find cancer, often before it becomes life-threatening. And when cancer is detected? People in Connecticut have available the finest options for treatment. Fortunately, you can even take even the nuisance of regional travel off your list of things to manage.
Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center has formed its innovative Surgical Alliance to bring in new subspecialists, and offer enhanced cancer services to local communities in the heart of Connecticut. The coordinated care available at Middlesex Hospital even brings in experts from The Mayo Clinic—just ranked #1 hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report—as part of a suite of exciting programs that are doing a lot of good. Being able to call experts at the illustrious Minnesota-based medical research practice into their local Connecticut cases is an incredible benefit to patients and the caring, capable physicians here.
A notable new addition to the highly skilled and experienced surgical team located at Middlesex Hospital is Dr. Chia-Chi Wang, D.O., Surgical Oncologist. Fellowship trained at Roswell Park Cancer Institute—the first institution in the world to focus exclusively on cancer research—Dr. Wang specializes in Surgical Oncology, skilled in both routine and rare interventions involving thyroid cancer, esophageal cancer, melanoma and soft tissue sarcoma. Bringing immense experience from her years as Surgical Oncologist at Delaware’s respected Tunnell Cancer Center (part of Beebe Healthcare), Dr. Wang is an assured surgeon and a charming person. She is also a big proponent of genetic testing and related screenings for high-risk individuals, especially regarding pancreatic cancer. Dr. Wang also loves her collaborative new environment at the advanced Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center.
Coastal Connecticut recently sat down with Dr. Wang for a brief Q&A that enlightened us about not only the progressive care available at Middletown Hospital Cancer Center, but about their philosophy of treating the entire person, not just their illness.
CCM: How did you become involved in Surgical Oncology?
Dr. Wang: Once, in my third year of medical school, I was just amazed how surgical intervention can change someone’s life so drastically, so quickly, in a day or two.
CCM: What made you want to be part of Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center?
Dr. Wang: This hospital has a very progressive view. They’re highly competitive. They want to be the best in their healthcare delivery, in a way that’s more economical compared to bigger systems. I think that Middlesex is the ideal place for me to practice interdisciplinary collaborations in complex cancer care that may involve a lot of subspecialties.
CCM: When it comes to cancer treatment, we hear about clinical trials. Do you combine advanced steps like that into treatment plans that may also include surgery?
Dr. Wang: Definitely. We like to encourage patients appropriately when it comes to participating in a clinical trial. And that’s how we make advancements in medicine.
CCM: In late 2015, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter disclosed that he was battling metastatic melanoma—a potentially devastating diagnosis. How is he now?
Dr. Wang: President Carter is still alive and his cancer is in remission. Through advancement in medicine, we’re able to lengthen the life span and improve quality of life. I’d say quality of life may be the more important of the two in terms of our focus. We don’t want to heal someone just to have them spend all their time in the ICU. And yet for a stage IV pancreatic cancer patient, two more weeks may be incredibly important. Middlesex, of course, has a reputation and a philosophy of treating the whole person, which fits beautifully with our approach to surgical intervention and overall treatment.
CCM: What about the families of patients under your care?
Dr. Wang: The family and friends of our patients are very welcome at Middlesex Hospital. Everyone has questions. We speak, we consult, we help set expectations.
CCM: Are there some other exciting things going on in your specialty at Middlesex that you’d like to talk about?
Dr. Wang: Yes. We have two excellent breast surgeons here, we have a great thoracic surgeon, and I tend to focus more on the upper GI in terms of the esophagus and stomach. I would also like to expand our thyroid cancer and melanoma program at Middlesex Hospital.
CCM: Anything else?
Dr. Wang: I wanted to mention our pancreatic cancer screening program. It’s not very common so there is no screening tool for the general population. However, at Middlesex we have come up with a program to screen high-risk patients, such as if you have multiple family members that have suffered from pancreatic cancer. We like to establish regular screenings for these people to detect disease early. It’s the key advantage in fighting pancreatic cancer.
CCM: Any closing thoughts for us?
Dr. Wang: In addition to our partnership with The Mayo Clinic, Middlesex is just big enough to have world-class technology and access to expertise, yet patients who wish it are seen by their attending physicians instead of residents. It’s a small difference with a big impact, especially for cancer patients. Because we doctors are involved with so many aspects in their life during and after treatment, it’s better to be more intimate with care. That’s one of the things I love about it here. When someone comes to us, they are treated like a family member.
To learn more about Middlesex Hospital, visit https://middlesexhospital.org/our-services/hospital-services/cancer-center