Throughout his impressive career as a surgeon, Marcelo DaSilva has seen an encouraging shift in mesothelioma survival. With extensive medical knowledge and the latest treatment options, he and other top specialists have helped add years to the lives of patients. Thats an impressive feat considering most doctors measure the aggressive cancers survival in months.
In 2013, DaSilva left a surgical position at Brigham and Womens Hospital to join the Loyola University Medical Center, where he serves as chief of thoracic surgery. He is also co-director of the Lung Cancer Program at Loyolas Cardinal Bernadin Cancer Center and associate professor of surgery at Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago.
DaSilva is one of many doctors who believe there is hope for patients with mesothelioma, that it is not a cancer without a cure. He actively studies new and current therapies hoping to find ways to extend survival even further and, one day, discover a cure.
DaSilva, one of the worlds leading mesothelioma experts, is helping Loyola develop several thoracic programs, including a comprehensive mesothelioma program that will be the first of its kind in the Midwest.
The new program, called the International Midwest Mesothelioma Program (IMMP), will focus on the diseases most common types, pleural and peritoneal. It will serve not only as a world-class treatment center, but also as a valuable research hub.
As he plans the program, DaSilva draws upon experience he gained as a surgeon with Brigham and Womens International Mesothelioma Program (IMP), one of the worlds most celebrated facilities dedicated to the rare cancer. In just under six years with IMP, DaSilva completed more than 250 life-changing surgeries for patients with pleural mesothelioma.
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During his five-year stint with Brigham and Womens Hospital, DaSilva honed his surgical skills under the guidance of Dr. David Sugarbaker, director of the IMP and longtime trailblazer in mesothelioma treatment. DaSilva also taught surgery at Harvard Medical School during this time.
While serving the IMP as a thoracic surgeon, he developed an effective heated chemotherapy technique for treating pleural mesothelioma. Patients who opt for this promising new approach, which combines surgery and chemotherapy, typically gain improved survival over those treated with either surgery or chemotherapy alone.
In phase one of the procedure, DaSilva performs surgery to remove all signs of cancer visible to the naked eye. Next, he moves on to phase two, which targets any microscopic cancer cells left behind. To destroy these cells, he bathes the lungs for one hour in a heated chemotherapy solution. This allows the drugs to penetrate deep into every crevice of the pleural cavity, killing the elusive cells responsible for the cancers high chance of returning after surgery.
On average, DaSilvas approach to heated chemotherapy extends survival by three to four years. This is a drastic improvement over surgery alone, which initially extended survival by only weeks.
DaSilva comes from a family of surgeons. As a child, he often overheard his father and uncles discussing patients and various procedures, topics he found fascinating. But at the start of his career, DaSilva almost chose a different field.
Surrounded by surgeons for many years, he decided to pick his own path and study psychiatry at University Gama Filho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But after starting his surgery rotation, DaSilva fell in love with the discipline specifically the surgeons thought process, attention to detail and keen interest in patient outcomes.
In the span of his career, DaSilva tried nearly every discipline of general surgery before eventually deciding to specialize in thoracic surgery. After graduating from medical school in 1990, he completed a residency in general surgery at Sound Shore Medical Center in New York. He joined Penn State University after graduation, where he spent three years completing a fellowship in surgical critical care and a chief residency in general surgery.
DaSilva studied cardiothoracic surgery at Loyola before returning to Penn State as a surgeon. In 2008, he took his talents to Harvard Medical School as an instructor in surgery. The same year, he joined Brigham and Womens as an associate staff surgeon.
In the years that followed, DaSilva served as a consultant for several hospitals, sharing his surgical expertise with patients and doctors at the Dana Farber Cancer Center, South Shore Hospital and Milford Regional Medical Center. In 2013, he took up teaching duties at Stritch School of Medicine and returned to Loyola as chief of thoracic surgery.
Today, DaSilva helps mesothelioma patients at Loyola, offering them the latest advances in technology. He provides 3-D video-assisted surgery, which gives surgeons a clearer, more realistic view of the chest cavity than ever before. He is also an expert at minimally invasive surgery, which uses smaller incisions to help patients achieve less pain and a shorter recovery time.
Never complacent, DaSilva continually seeks better ways to improve his patients survival and quality of life.
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