WVU Medicine earns the highest rating for work treating thoracic cancers from national organization


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine’s Heart and Vascular Institute Division of Thoracic Surgery has earned a three-star rating, the highest, from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for its esophageal cancer patient care and robotic esophagectomy outcomes.

Thoracic surgery refers to surgery being done on the chest region of the body and an esophagectomy surgery is when surgeons remove the esophagus and reconstruct it using the stomach. Dr. Ghulam Abbas, the chief of thoracic surgery at WVU Medicine, said the STS is the most prestigious for thoracic surgeons.

“The fact that we got the highest ranking from the STS is an endorsement of the care we provide here at thoracic oncology in lung cancer, esophageal cancer, and other malignancies,” Dr. Abbas said. “The fact that we use a multidisciplinary approach with a team of specialist doctors and we provide minimally invasive options like robotic surgeries and that we are one of the busiest centers for robotic thoracic surgery our outcomes are better than the other centers in the region.”

Dr. Abbas said one of the factors that makes WVU Medicine so effective at treating its patients is the fact that they use a multidisciplinary approach.

“You need a multidisciplinary team and it involves a lot of advanced technologies in the care of the patients,” Dr. Abbas said.

He said they use chemotherapy, radiation therapy and robotic esophagectomy in the fight for survival and that there have been significant improvements over the last few years. Despite these improvements, esophageal cancer rates in the U.S. are up roughly 500 percent over the last 30 years, Dr. Abbas said.

Only 17 percent of patients see long-term survival according to a WVU Medicine press release. Middle-aged men are those most affected and there is not an exact reason known for why rates have increased. Dr. Abbas said the theory is that it is related to obesity, lifestyle changes, and reflux disease.

WVU Medicine uses its interdisciplinary approach and advanced robotics surgery procedure to plow ahead toward getting the best outcomes for patients.

“The advantage of the robot is it’s a very minimally invasive surgery and the patients get to go home in two to three days with fast recovery,” Dr. Abbas said. “Our outcomes have been great, we just reviewed our robotic thoracic surgery outcomes and we had probably the best outcome I know in the region.”

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