Patricio Polanco, M.D., is an Associate Professor in the Division of Surgical Oncology in the Department of Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center. 

He focuses on gastrointestinal cancers and has advanced training in minimally invasive techniques, robotic surgery, cytoreductive surgery, and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).

A native of Peru, Dr. Polanco graduated as valedictorian of Universidad de San Martin de Porres Medical School. After completing his surgical training in Lima, Peru, he moved to the United States, where he completed a postdoctoral research fellowship and a general surgery residency at the University of Pittsburgh. During his training, Dr. Polanco received several prestigious accolades, including the Alpha Omega Alpha-Honor Medical Society, the Charles C. Moore Teaching Award at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and the Gold Foundation Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award. He later pursued a Complex Surgical Oncology Fellowship at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. 

A board-certified surgeon by the American Board of Surgery, Dr. Polanco joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2014. 

His research involves the analysis of institutional and national cancer databases to answer relevant clinical questions that may help improve cancer therapies and optimize the care of cancer patients. His research has been presented in national and international meetings and published in several surgical journals.

He is a member of several professional organizations, including the Society of Surgical Oncology, the Association of Hepato-Pancreatobiliary Surgery, the American College of Surgeons, the American Medical Association, and the Texas Medical Society.

Dr. Polanco was included in D Magazine's Best Doctors list for 2019 – 2022.

Meet Dr. Polanco

Gastrointestinal Surgical Oncologist in Dallas

Surgical oncologist Patricio Polanco, M.D., focuses on treating complex gastrointestinal malignancies including liver cancer, pancreas cancer, colorectal cancer, gastric cancer, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and neuroendocrine tumors.

Dr. Polanco also has advanced training in cytoreductive surgery, hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), minimally invasive techniques, and robotic surgery.

Cytoreductive surgery is a complex procedure that removes any visible tumors or cancer that has disseminated in the abdominal cavity, and HIPEC delivers a high concentration of heated chemotherapy drugs directly to the affected areas.

For select patients with appendiceal cancer, mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and colon cancer that has spread throughout the abdomen, this treatment offers the chance to control the disease and prolong their lives.

“It is a delicate, complex, and challenging surgery but safe and beneficial when it is performed by experienced and well-trained surgeons,” Dr. Polanco says.

“Understanding each patient’s disease process helps us to select patients that will benefit from this procedure. Before the development of this technique, patients with carcinomatosis or peritoneal dissemination of cancer had little to no options to treat their symptoms, improve their quality of life, and obtain long-term survival,” he says.

Dr. Polanco also focuses on treating gastrointestinal tumors with minimally invasive and robotic surgery options when appropriate. These techniques allow for smaller incisions that lead to minimal postoperative pain and a faster recovery after surgery.

“With the use of the latest technology and advanced surgical skills, minimally invasive or robotic surgery can be an important option for some patients with abdominal tumors,” he says. “The faster they can recover from surgery, the sooner they can get to the next stage of their cancer care, whether that’s resting at home or receiving chemotherapy or radiation.”

Beyond his technical expertise, Dr. Polanco prides himself on bringing warmth and compassion to every patient he treats.

“My profession isn’t just a job or part of a routine,” he says. “I truly care about my patients and want to do what’s best for them. I take their struggles and concerns as my own. When I discuss treatment options I try to put myself in their shoes and offer them the care that I would like my own family to receive.”

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Education & Training
  • Medical School - Universidad de San Martin de Porres (1997-2000)
  • Internship - Hospital Nacional Arzobispo Loayza (2000-2001), General Surgery
  • Residency - Hospital Nacional Guillermo Almenara I. Essalud (2001-2004), General Surgery
  • Fellowship - University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (2005-2007), Post Doctoral
  • Residency - University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (2007-2012), Surgery
  • Fellowship - University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (2012-2014), Surgical Oncology
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • Society of Surgical Oncology (2012), The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) is a dynamic global community of cancer surgeons shaping advancements in the profession to deliver the highest quality surgical care for cancer patients. SSO promotes leading edge research, quality standards, and knowledge exchange connecting cancer surgeons worldwide to continuously improve cancer outcomes.
  • Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association (2014), The Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association (AHPBA), an incorporated, nonprofit organization, was created with a vision of devoting itself to relieving the human suffering caused by HPB disorders throughout the world, by improving education, training, innovation, research and patient care.
  • American College of Surgeons (2007), The American College of Surgeons (ACS) is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to improve the quality of care for the surgical patient by setting high standards for surgical education and practice. The American College of Surgeons is dedicated to improving the care of the surgical patient and to safeguarding standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment.
  • Association for Academic Surgery (2016), The mission of the AAS is to inspire and develop young academic surgeons.Active members have traditionally held faculty appointments at a recognized academic center. The impetus of the membership remains research-based academic surgery.
  • Gold Foundation for Humanism and Honor Medical Society (2010)
  • Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Society (2019), AΩA - the honor medical society recognizing, advocating for, and inspiring physicians in the care of patients and promotion of health. Members may be elected throughout their career and epitomize professionalism, leadership, academic and clinical excellence, research, community service, and "being worthy to serve the suffering."
  • The Association of VA Surgeons (2015)
  • Peruvian American Medical Society (2010)
Honors & Awards
  • D Magazine Best Doctor 2019-2022

Clinical Focus

  • Liver Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Peritoneal Cancer
  • Anal Cancer
  • Pelvic Malignancies
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Stomach/EG Junction Cancer
  • Surgery for Gastrointestinal Cancer
  • Gallbladder/Bile Duct (Cholangiocarcinoma) Cancer
  • Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer
  • Pancreatic Disease
  • Gastrointestinal Cancers
  • Gallbladder & Bile Duct Disease
  • Biliary Tract Disorders

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Q&A by Dr. Polanco