Surgical oncologist Dr. Vadim Gushchin has a lifelong commitment to his peritoneal mesothelioma patients.
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He never lets go.
Gushchin is the director of gastrointestinal oncology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, taking a special interest in peritoneal surface malignancies such as mesothelioma.
He has developed an expertise in the cytoreductive surgery and heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) combination that has been so effective for so many of those patients.
“My first mesothelioma patient was about eight years ago,” Gushchin told Asbestos.com. “And today, he’s still hunting moose in Alaska. A fun guy. I can’t brag that I cured him, but between him, his medical oncologist and myself, we’re managing to keep him alive, functional, and in control of his disease.”
Peritoneal mesothelioma, which has no definitive cure, is a rare and aggressive cancer diagnosed in less than 1,000 patients each year the U.S.
Gushchin believes in a personalized, long-term approach to caring for his patients.
This leads to treatment decisions and future follow-ups that often are missed by oncologists less familiar with peritoneal mesothelioma.
“I’m not interested in only the surgery and HIPEC, then sending them into the wilderness. We follow these patients and own all their future successes and failures,” he said. “You need expertise from an entire staff to do that, but it’s important.”
Gushchin stressed the importance of patients finding a specialty center with extensive experience in treating the disease.
“From my own observation, many oncologists, surgeons who run into a rare tumor like mesothelioma just have a default position, which is safe for the professional, I guess,” he said. “But long term, it might not be the best option for the patient. Physicians like us are thinking months to many years ahead. We’re not burning bridges. Our patients are exposed to many options, if needed.”
Gushchin’s interest — and expertise — in peritoneal surface malignancies was sparked by training he received early in his career from Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, a mesothelioma treatment pioneer.
Gushchin also has vast expertise in robotic surgery, which is used for more precise and less invasive procedures, leading to shorter hospital stays and faster recovery compared to open surgery techniques.
He treats melanoma and cancers of the thyroid, liver, colon and rectum. Gushchin does laparoscopic pancreatic surgery and the Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy), both highly complex operations.
He remains active in collaborative research that can improve therapies, including the soon-to-be FDA approved pressurized intraPeritoneal aerosol chemotherapy (PIPAC) procedure, which is similar to HIPEC and may be used for future mesothelioma patients.
Gushchin has educated physicians around the world about HIPEC, setting up treatment programs in Lithuania, Siberia and Ukraine.
He also is the director of Mercy’s continuing medical education program for surgical oncology, an advanced training initiative that attracts surgical, radiation and medical oncologists throughout the region.
Gushchin’s approach to patients is well-known, using a multitude of factors to develop a thorough, long-lasting and personalized care plan.
Disclaimer: Dr. Vadim Gushchin 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.