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Dr. Paul H. Sugarbaker

Dr. Paul H. Sugarbaker

Director of Surgical Oncology

Dr. Paul Sugarbaker is recognized as the world’s leading expert on peritoneal mesothelioma. He pioneered the innovative surgical techniques that changed the way the cancer is treated and extended survival times significantly.

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About Paul H. Sugarbaker

  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma icon

    Peritoneal Mesothelioma

  • Top Doctor icon

    Top Doctor

  • Research Excellence icon

    Excellence in Research

  • Mesothelioma Pioneer icon

    Mesothelioma Pioneer

  • Team Leader icon

    Team Leader

  • Heated Chemotherapy icon

    Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy

Get to Know Dr. Paul Sugarbaker

Dr. Paul Sugarbaker has been credited with first developing the cytoreductive surgery and heated chemotherapy combination used today by surgical oncologists at most mesothelioma specialty centers.

Many of those he taught refer to the effective mesothelioma treatment as the Sugarbaker Procedure.

He is chief of the Peritoneal Surface Malignancy Program and the director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Malignancies at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., where he has been since 1989.

Sugarbaker focuses almost exclusively on gynecologic malignancy, gastrointestinal cancer and peritoneal mesothelioma.

His laboratory work centers around reducing the peritoneal surface dissemination of cancer.

The Sugarbaker Procedure, which is also used as the signature treatment for other abdominal cancers, involves removing the lining of the abdomen and all visible tumor cells on organs throughout the cavity. This process is known as cytoreductive surgery.

A heated chemotherapy solution is then circulated throughout the abdominal cavity for 90 minutes to kill any microscopic tumor cells that evaded the surgeon. The solution is then drained, and the surgical incisions are closed. The entire procedure can take up to 10 hours.

The procedure has been credited with extending lives of peritoneal mesothelioma patients. The majority of those undergoing the procedure survive at least five years. Many live 10 years and beyond.

Specialties of Dr. Paul Sugarbaker

Dr. Paul Sugarbaker’s Experience and Medical Education

  • Cornell University Medical College

  • Harvard School of Arts and Sciences

  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Residency)

  • Massachusetts General Hospital (Fellowship)

  • National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute

  • Emory Clinic

  • Washington Cancer Institute/Washington Hospital Center

Awards and Other Recognitions

  • Founding member, International Society of Regional Cancer Therapy

  • Editorial board, European Journal of Surgical Oncology

  • Distinguished Service Award, American Society of Abdominal Surgeons

  • Nurses Choice Physician Collaboration Award, Washington Hospital Center

  • E.T. Krementz Award for Best Research Development, 8th International Conference of Regional Cancer Treatment

  • Fellow, The Royal College of Surgeons of England and The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Scotland

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The Sugarbaker Name

The Sugarbaker name is synonymous with advancing the treatment of mesothelioma cancer.

Brother David Sugarbaker died in 2018, but not before becoming the first thoracic surgeon to embrace the challenge of treating pleural mesothelioma, giving hope to those who once had none.

Paul Sugarbaker did much the same for peritoneal mesothelioma.

He did the first Sugarbaker Procedure more than two decades ago, offering his expertise to young surgeons throughout the world to build on what he started.

Through the years, he has traveled to all five continents to teach others.

Sugarbaker still travels to Europe annually to teach a course in peritoneal surgical oncology. He has written books and made videos on the topic. He lectures extensively and is on the editorial board of 11 medical journals.

“I think part of your obligation as an innovator is to pass on what you learned, and what you accomplished, so others can expand on it,” he said. “We both saw ourselves as trying to bring new and beneficial things to those with this rare disease. You help everyone that way.” Mesothelioma Guide

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Testimonials from Other Mesothelioma Doctors

Dr. Jesus Esquivel, Frederick Memorial Hospital
“We are very grateful for his impact in the country where I am from. He is responsible for first bringing the Sugarbaker Procedure to Mexico by his pioneering efforts. Because of him, we opened the first peritoneal and HIPEC workshop there.”

Dr. Marcello Deraco, National Cancer Institute of Milan, Italy
“No other treatment has ever had such an impact on the quality of life for patients with mesothelioma than the surgical concept [Paul] introduced.”

Dr. Brendan Moran, Peritoneal Malignancy Institute, Basingstoke, U.K.
“He is a tireless innovator and one of the legends of our time. I consider Paul Sugarbaker the global leader in surgical oncology.”

Publications of Dr. Paul Sugarbaker

  • Sugarbaker, P. (2020, June). Unusually favorable outcome of 6 consecutive patients with diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma treated with repeated doses of intraperitoneal paclitaxel. A case series. Surgical Oncology.

  • Sugarbaker, P. et al. (2019, December 16). Intraperitoneal delivery of chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of peritoneal metastases: current challenges and how to overcome them. Expert Opinion Drug Delivery Journal.

  • Sugarbaker, P. (2018, October). Update on the management of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. Translational Lung Cancer.

  • Sugarbaker, P. (2018, July 27). Peritoneal Metastases, a Frontier for Progress. Surgical Oncology Clinics of North America.

  • Sugarbaker, P. et al. (2017, July). Long-term regional chemotherapy for patients with epithelial malignant peritoneal mesothelioma results in improved survival. European Journal of Surgical Oncology.

  • Sugarbaker, P. (2017, June 5). Intra-abdominal manifestations of pleural mesothelioma. Annals of Translational Medicine.

Common Questions About Dr. Paul Sugarbaker

Does Dr. Paul Sugarbaker treat peritoneal mesothelioma?

Dr. Paul Sugarbaker is a leading expert on peritoneal mesothelioma. He is recognized globally for his innovative surgical procedures that have significantly extended survival times for those patients.

What is the Sugarbaker Procedure?

The Sugarbaker Procedure is a combination therapy that involves cytoreductive surgery to remove tumor masses, followed by circulating heated chemotherapy in the abdomen to kill remaining tumor cells. Dr. Paul Sugarbaker is credited with developing this breakthrough therapy, which has extended survival for peritoneal mesothelioma patients by 10 years or more.

Is HIPEC effective at treating peritoneal mesothelioma?

HIPEC is an effective treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma patients. Average survival for peritoneal mesothelioma patients was approximately six months prior to the availability of HIPEC treatment. With the introduction of HIPEC therapy, half of patients now live longer than five years.

How do I choose a mesothelioma doctor that is right for me?

Choosing the right mesothelioma doctor involves researching the years of experience they have specializing in the treatment of mesothelioma. You will also want to verify that your doctor is covered by your insurance plan.

Disclaimer: Dr. Paul H. Sugarbaker has no professional affiliation with

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Senior Content Writer

Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers.

Walter Pacheco, Managing Editor at
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2 Cited Article Sources

The sources on all content featured in The Mesothelioma Center at include medical and scientific studies, peer-reviewed studies and other research documents from reputable organizations.

  1. Sugarbaker, P.H. and Stuart, A. (2020). Unusually favorable outcome of 6 consecutive patients with diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma treated with repeated doses of intraperitoneal paclitaxel. A case series.
    Retrieved from:
  2. Sugarbaker Oncology Sources. (n.d.). Dr. Paul H. Sugarbaker, FACS, FRCS. Retrieved from:

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Last Modified August 10, 2020

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