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Surgical Oncology

Photo of Dr. Kapplan and patient in clinicSurgical oncology focuses on the surgical management of tumors, both benign and malignant. A surgical oncologist provides comprehensive evaluation for newly diagnosed and recurrent/metastatic cancer and treats cancer by removing tumors or other cancerous tissue.

Our surgical oncologists are an integral part of the clinical care, educational training and research activities of VCU Massey Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. Our surgeons also provide care at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center.

Areas of Expertise

Our surgeons are all board certified, have specialty training and experience in cancer surgery and are further sub-specialized in treating specific cancer types.

Our areas of expertise include:

Advanced Procedures

Photo of Dr. Kapplan in surgeryOur surgeons use state-of-the-art techniques and the newest technologies for a range of advanced procedures, including:

  • Robotic surgery – The da Vinci®Surgical System is an advanced form of robotic surgery that offers a minimally invasive option for complex and delicate surgical procedures. Because it requires only a few tiny incisions and offers greater vision, precision and control for the surgeon, patients can often recover sooner, move on to additional treatments if needed and get back to daily life quicker. Other potential benefits include less pain, blood loss and scarring and lower risk of infection.
  • Minimally invasive laparoscopic options – Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure in which a slender fiber-optic instrument with a tiny video camera and light on the end is inserted into the body through a small cut to allow the surgeon to see inside the body with fewer, smaller cuts. The advantages of laparoscopy include smaller scars that are less painful and heal faster, shorter hospital stays and a quicker return to normal activities.
  • Whipple procedure – The Whipple procedure, also known as a pancreaticoduodenectomy, is a complex surgery in which the “head” of the pancreas is removed along with the first part of the small intestine known as the duodenum, the gallbladder, a portion of the bile duct and sometimes part of the stomach. The remaining intestine, bile duct and pancreas are then reconnected. The Whipple procedure has been shown to extend the life of, and sometimes cure, patients whose tumors are confined to the head of the pancreas and have not spread to neighboring or distant organs.
  • HIPECHyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a complex procedure that involves cytoreductive surgery to remove all or almost all visible tumors in the abdomen, followed by the delivery of a heated, highly concentrated chemotherapy solution directly to the abdomen to penetrate and destroy remaining cancer cells. Massey surgical oncologist Dr. Leopoldo Fernandez is one of the few surgeons in Virginia to offer HIPEC for the treatment of advanced abdominal cancers.
  • Oncoplastic surgery – Oncoplastic surgery combines plastic surgery techniques with breast surgical oncology to improve cosmetic results and minimize the effects of cancer treatment. With oncoplastic surgery, the breast is reconstructed at the same time that a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy is performed. We also collaborate with our plastic surgery colleagues to offer the most advanced options for reconstruction after total mastectomy, often done at the same time as the primary cancer operation.
  • Neoadjuvant therapy – With neoadjuvant therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or radiation therapy is given prior to surgery in order to reduce the size of the tumor. This therapy may improve surgical outcomes or allow patients who were not candidates for surgery to become eligible. Surgical oncologist Dr. Harry Bear helped Massey Cancer Center pioneer neoadjuvant therapy for breast cancer.
  • Ultrasound-guided needle biopsies – An ultrasound-guided needle biopsy is done to learn more about a lesion or mass. An ultrasound is used to find the abnormality and guide a needle into the lesion to remove tissue for testing. A pathologist reviews the tissue sample and writes a report for the doctor to review and discuss with the patient.
  • Cutting-edge cancer therapies and clinical trials – Our surgeons are helping to pioneer new cancer therapies and are leading and developing clinical trials to improve cancer care.

Visit the VCU Massey Cancer Center website to learn more about the world-class cancer care and research contributed by our team.

Visit the VCU School of Medicine website to learn more about our division and fellowship program.

Our Team

Harry Bear, MD, PhD, Division Chair, Surgical Oncology
Patricia Bragg, FNP
Leopoldo J. Fernandez, MD
Amelia Grover, MD
Brian Kaplan, MD
Kandace McGuire, MD, Chief of Breast Surgery
Anna Nizinski, ANP
Giao Q. Phan, MD

To make an appointment with one of our surgical oncologists, please call (804) 628-3111.