Minimally Invasive Surgery
Schiffman has been specially trained in cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), an effective combination for peritoneal mesothelioma.
Schiffman joined the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) in 2014, following a fellowship at nearby University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a residency at the University of Louisville.
She is part of the recent resurgence of AHN, which is rising to prominence as a specialty center for its treatment of peritoneal surface malignancies.
Schiffman is trained in surgery for pancreatic, liver, small bowel, colon and stomach cancers.
Her skills include the most advanced minimally invasive surgical procedures.
Schiffman’s arrival marked the return of the cytoreduction and HIPEC combination at AHN after nearly a decade.
“This is a very comprehensive center now, where we are able to offer any type of treatment a patient would need,” Schiffman said.
She is the lead contact at AHN for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma, the rare and aggressive cancer that begins in the lining around the abdomen.
Mesothelioma typically comes with a grim prognosis, although treatment advances like those being used at AHN now have extended survival times significantly.
“I tell my patients, ‘This is not the time to give up. You’re not a statistic,’” Schiffman said. “There are options now to consider. We have treatments today that can extend survival significantly.”
The aggressive surgery involves the removal of all visible tumor cells throughout the abdominal cavity.
HIPEC, which is delivered directly into the abdomen following surgery, is designed to kill any remaining microscopic cancer cells.
After 60 to 90 minutes of HIPEC, the surgeon drains the solution and closes the incision.
Heating the chemotherapy solution makes it more effective. By putting it directly into the abdomen — instead of systemically — it also can be stronger without the harsh side effects that typically come with chemotherapy.
“These procedures need to be done at multidisciplinary centers where the surgeons and staff have the necessary skills,” she said. “HIPEC and cytoreductive surgery can bring hope to patients with these complex abdominal malignancies.”
Her practice also includes the treatment of benign gastrointestinal disease.
Schiffman earned her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College. She served as chief administrative resident at the University of Louisville before joining AHN.
Disclaimer: Dr. Suzanne Schiffman has no professional affiliation with Asbestos.com.
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.