John Mansour, M.D. Answers Questions On: Surgical Oncology
What drew you to surgical oncology?
Surgical oncology allows me to be very close to my patients. I know them very well, and we build a relationship that lasts throughout their lives. They face some hard problems, which can be technically challenging for me and personally challenging for them. It’s a privilege to take care of people when they are struggling with something so massive.
Surgical oncology is also intellectually challenging, and I like that I can translate my clinical and patient experiences into scientific solutions for difficult problems, such as the management of pancreas cancer.
You could also say that I went into the family business. My father is a surgical oncologist in Cleveland. In many ways, he is my role model.
One of your case studies singles out a patient who was a Jehovah’s Witness. What was special about that case?
For religious reasons, many Jehovah’s Witness patients do not accept blood transfusions. That can be challenging if a person has a tumor growing from the largest vein in the body, which was the case with this patient. There was a great risk for significant blood loss with surgery.
She had been seen elsewhere, and several doctors told her that they would give her a blood transfusion whether she wanted one or not. If she didn’t agree to it, they said they wouldn’t remove the tumor.
She came to us, and we had many conversations with her and her family. We talked about what she wanted if there was a lot of bleeding, and she said that she would rather die than get a blood transfusion. We worked within her expectations and maximized her safety while respecting her wishes. Fortunately, the operation went very well and she had little blood loss.
But that’s part of what we do at UT Southwestern. We are often sent patients who are seen as too complex or risky for others to treat.
I want to be a resource for challenging and complicated problems such as stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, and sarcomas. Other surgeons might see these challenging kinds of issues once a year or even once in their career, and I see these problems every single week.
Was that your most memorable case?
The people whom I have grown to know and have followed over the years are more memorable than my biggest tumor or most complicated case. I’ve grown to know their families. They send me Christmas cards, write notes, or greet me with a hug or a kiss on the cheek. That’s what I remember most.