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A Conversation About Gastrointestinal Cancer Care with Mitchell Posner, MD

Mitchell C. Posner, MD

Mitchell C. Posner, MD, is an internationally recognized expert on upper gastrointestinal cancers, including pancreatic, esophageal, stomach and liver cancers. Posner is chief of general surgery and surgical oncology and medical director of clinical cancer programs at the University of Chicago Medicine. The cancer program at the University of Chicago Medicine is ranked No. 1 in the state of Illinois for 2012-2013 by U.S. News & World Report.

Q. What should a patient with gastrointestinal cancer expect when he calls to make an appointment at the University of Chicago Medicine?
A. We strive to see patients within a week of their initial call, and I think we’re very good at that. Our new goal is to schedule a visit within three days. We have a dedicated intake team that coordinates appropriate appointments with medical oncology, surgical oncology, gastroenterology and radiation oncology. They are experienced, knowledgeable and able to navigate patients in a very seamless way through a complex process.

Q. What are some things patients should consider when they are deciding where to be treated?
A. It’s important for patients to have a comfort level with both the physician and the treatment plan. From a surgical perspective, it’s well known that surgeons and hospitals treating high volumes of a particular type of cancer have better outcomes.

Q. What is the role of clinical trials in upper GI cancers?
A. Many of the diseases we treat are among the most lethal of cancers. Clinical trials provide the mechanism to test new agents, new surgical techniques and new approaches, and are, I think, a critical component of care. For pancreatic cancer, nearly every patient would benefit from being in a clinical trial, in my opinion.

Q. What are your goals as medical director of clinical cancer programs at the University of Chicago Medicine?
A. Providing patients easy access to what is rated as the No. 1 cancer center in Chicago and one of the leading cancer centers in the country. Communicating with referring physicians in a more standardized fashion. Offering an ideal patient experience.

Q. What inspires you about the University of Chicago Medicine?
A. Great people in a great setting that has the perfect balance of research, clinical excellence and the training of the next generation of both academic and clinical leaders. It sounds like Shangri-la, but I believe it. So that’s what inspires me.

Video: Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology

Imagine, Summer 2012

This story originally ran in the Summer 2012 issue of Imagine, a quarterly magazine published by the University of Chicago Medicine.
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