As one of the youngest surgeons at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Giorgos C. Karakousis, M.D., is gaining ground quickly.
Karakousis, 37, received his General Surgery Board Certification in 2008. He was appointed assistant professor of surgery in 2010, joining both the Melanoma and Gastrointestinal cancer programs, focusing on the mesothelioma group at Penn Medicine.
Karakousis selected peritoneal mesothelioma as a specialty, the rare cancer that attacks the lining of the abdominal cavity and represents only 15-20 percent of all mesothelioma cases.
Fast Fact: Dr. Karakousis did his fellowship in surgical oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
His early work earned him the honor to present at the 2010 Focus on Mesothelioma Conference at Penn Medicine, where physicians, researchers and patients from around the country annually gather to learn more about this little-known disease with no cure.
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“Diffuse Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Cytoreductive Surgery and HIPEC,” was the title of his presentation, allowing him to talk about a treatment plan he studied extensively. ” There have been good, long-term outcomes for patients with this disease,” he said.
The cytoreductive surgery he talked about removes all visible tumors around the peritoneal cavity. The hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy is delivered directly into the abdomen, hitting the cancer cells that may have been missed. It allows high-dose, heated chemotherapy instead of the traditional systemic method, making it more effective.
According to Karakousis’ presentation, there are only 300-400 cases annually of diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma in the United States, with a slight male predominance and a mean age of 50.
New research is revealing genetic markers that can serve as prognostic factors and help to direct novel and targeted therapies.
Karakousis already has delivered similar presentations at Penn Medicine on other topics, at different conventions, reflecting the versatility he has shown as a young surgeon.
There was “Malignant Melanoma Advances in Surgery: What You Need to Know,” and “Surgical Management of Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Gastrointestinal Tract.”
Despite his young surgical career, Karakousis has been part of the Penn Medicine family for years. After his undergraduate work at Yale University, he attended the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. He did his general surgery residency training and research fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2006, he won the Inouye Award for Teaching by a Resident at Pennsylvania. Early in 2010, he was appointed Attending Surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
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