An Oncologist With Cancer: Mark Lewis Shares Unique Viewpoint

Mark A. Lewis, MD


July 31, 2019

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

I am Mark Lewis, a medical oncologist and the director of gastrointestinal oncology at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah. Today I'm answering the question, why am I joining Medscape as a commentator?

I'll give you a two-part response. First, in the modern era, we have a problem—too much information. In some ways, it's a nice problem to have. There are so many studies and novel findings being released via the peer-reviewed literature and through social media channels, that no one person can reasonably be expected to absorb and digest all of this information. And so I rely on my peers to curate information for me that they find interesting. That allows me to then study it in some detail; decide whether it is meaningful to me and my patients; and then, in turn, to disseminate what I think is most relevant.

Now, I realize that this chorus of voices in oncology threatens to disintegrate into a cacophony if we're not careful about who we listen to. So why should you care about my voice? You may not like what I have to say or how I say it. But the second part of my answer is that, regardless of my content, I hope I can bring authenticity to this platform, because I am a patient as well.

About 2 years ago, I underwent the Whipple surgery, which is a major operation on the pancreas. In my case, it was performed to remove a tumor growing there that was threatening to spread to my liver. As it happens, I'm in the midst of my 2-year follow-up, a series of scans and labs and scopes that will determine whether I need active treatment, or whether I can continue in the privileged position of surveillance.

For me, this is a family affair. I got into oncology because my father died when I was 14 years old. It turns out that his ultimate cause of death was a heritable tumor syndrome, which he passed on to me, and which I have in turn passed on to my son. So, as an oncologist, a patient, and a parent, I very much care about the current state of the field; about making care that is as patient-centric as possible; and about minimizing toxicity while maximizing quality of life and longevity, for this and future generations.

I appreciate you listening to me. I hope I can update you from time to time, not so much on my own journey, but on the literature that I find most interesting, patient-centric, and central to the very human experience of being a person with cancer.

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