Dr. Seth Force is best known today for his work as the surgical director of the Adult Lung Transplant Program at the Emory University School of Medicine, where he tripled the number of successful operations performed annually from before his arrival in 2003.
He learned from the best.
Force was trained under the renowned Dr. Joel Cooper, who performed the first successful single lung and first successful double lung transplants 30 years ago.
Big jobs don’t faze him.
Force also has joined the fight against pleural mesothelioma, the rare and aggressive cancer caused primarily by exposure to asbestos fibers, which often are unknowingly inhaled or ingested.
Mesothelioma typically begins in the thin lining around the lungs. It can be 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos before mesothelioma is diagnosed. Unfortunately the majority of mesothelioma patients are not candidates for aggressive, curative surgery. The cancer too often is diagnosed with advanced disease that is inoperable.
“Advances in treating this disease have been slow to come,” Force said. “It’s why early screening and detection in at-risk patients is so important. The best chance for a cure is with early detection.”
Force estimated that he sees only 10 mesothelioma patients annually who are actual surgical candidates, but those are just a fraction of the total number treated non-surgically at Emory.
Fast Fact: Force worked closely with Dr. Joel Cooper, who performed America’s first successful lung transplant in 1983.
The Winship Cancer Institute is the only center in the state of Georgia with a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation. Emory has the vast resources needed for successfully treating a cancer as complex and rare as mesothelioma. It also is the home to promising new therapies and early clinical trials.
“It’s just so critical that patients with mesothelioma seek out the centers with multidisciplinary expertise — thoracic surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology — designed for this disease,” he said. “There are a lot of ways we can help these patients.”
Force also has clinical interests in esophageal cancer and all lung diseases, minimally invasive surgery, thoracic oncology, reflux surgery and microinvasive hyperhidrosis. His research interest is primarily in lung transplantation outcomes.
He attended the Tulane University School of Medicine before his general surgical residency at the University of Pennsylvania and his thoracic surgery fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine in Missouri.
He has been at Emory since leaving Missouri in 2003. He has been on the Atlanta Top Doctor list five times. He was named Thoracic Surgery Teacher of the Year and was listed on the America’s Top Surgeons list (Consumer Research Council) in 2010.
He is credited with vastly improving Emory’s lung transplant survival rate by revamping its procedures and protocols. In addition to overseeing the transplant program, he also is the chief of general thoracic surgery, surgical director of the thoracic oncology program at Winship and director of the thoracic surgery robotics program.
Under his leadership, Emory performs an estimated 30 lung transplants annually. Force also sees patients at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.
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