Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Now a High Volume Hospital for Pancreatic Surgeries
Led by Ridley-Tree Cancer Center Physician Dr. W. Charles Conway
Dr. W. Charles Conway MD, FACS, the first fellowship-trained surgical oncologist to join the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center at Sansum Clinic, performed over 20 pancreatic surgeries last year at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital to help treat many patients with pancreatic cancer.
Due to the complexity of pancreatic surgery, especially the Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy), the Leapfrog Group, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan) and the American Cancer Society strongly recommend that patients who need pancreatic surgery seek out hospitals and physicians with experience and a recorded “high-volume” of at least 15 to 20 pancreatic surgeries a year.
According to the American Cancer Association, surgery offers the only realistic chance to treat pancreatic cancer. Data show high-volume surgeons at high-volume hospitals have higher success rates and fewer complications, including lower mortality rates.
The Whipple procedure is the most common operation to remove a cancer in the head of the pancreas. During this operation, the surgeon removes the head of the pancreas, a portion of the bile duct, the duodenum and surrounding lymph nodes.
Pancreatic cancer is sometimes called a “silent” disease because symptoms are rarely noticeable in its early stages, or are vague and can be easy to ignore, including back or stomach pain, bloating, trouble digesting food, unexplained weight loss, and yellowing skin or eyes. PanCan recommends consulting with a physician if you have any of these symptoms.
Dr. Conway completed general surgery training at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI and a surgical oncology fellowship at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, CA, which included broad surgical oncology training as well as focused study in the treatment of gastroesophageal cancers at the University of Southern California, and liver and pancreas cancers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
From there he accepted a position at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, LA where he spent eight years as a high volume pancreas surgeon, and has performed over 300 Whipple procedures including those requiring vascular reconstruction.