GIST is a tricky disease. It’s important for patients to find the right doctor, one who understands the disease biology, treatment options and individualized treatment techniques like mutational and plasma testing. In most cases, we encourage our members to seek a GIST specialist.
Recently, there have been a number of shifts in our close-knit GIST physician community and it’s making some people a little nervous.
Here, we are breaking down some of these transitions and getting information from the sources themselves.
- Dr. Robert Maki has left Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute (MSKCC) and is now at Mount Sinai Hospital, both in New York City.
- Dr. William Tap has left UCLA and is now at MSKCC.
- Dr. David D’Adamo has left MSKCC and is now at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Cambridge, Mass.
- Dr. Jonathan Trent has left MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDA) in Houston, Texas and as of September 18, will be at Sylvester Cancer Center in Miami, Flor.
I managed to get a hold of Drs. Tap and Trent for discussion.
Dr. Tap understands the patients’ anxiety, “This is a tight community, but GIST remains an area where we will always interact. We’re going to make sure they get the best care.”
As for his move, Tap is very excited about working in a facility like MSKCC as the Section Chief of Sarcoma.
“It really offers a lot of different opportunities that you can’t find other places. It’s one of the largest sarcoma programs in the country and I think some of the basic science research here has a way to advance GIST research. Some of the best surgeons and pathologists in world are here.”
Dr. Tap will sincerely miss the patients who could not come with him but is trying to remain in touch through email.
But they are still receiving great care at UCLA, he states, “UCLA remains a top notch place and the sarcoma program has tremendous support from the Department of Medicine. Dr. Eilber is there and Dr. Bartoz Milowsky, who I worked with for three years is taking over for me.”
Farther west, Dr. Trent is busy preparing himself for his move to Sylvester.
“There is a real need for [GIST specialists] in the Southeast United States,” he declares.
While Trent is enthusiastic about his new position, Program Director of the Sarcoma Center at Sylvester, he is having difficulty letting go of his patients in Houston.
“The most difficult aspect of this situation is to move away from so many wonderful patients. I honestly apologize for any difficulties or anxiety this move has caused.”
Trent is doing his best to ensure a seamless transition for patients following him and those remaining at MDA.
Drs. Bob Benjamin, Dejka Araujo & Satesh Patel are just a few of the respected physicians currently at MD Anderson.
Both Tap & Trent are energized by their futures at their respective institutions.
Trent is working to renew mutational testing soon and hopes to include plasma testing as part of his program. Tap is particularly motivated by the collaborative nature of the sarcoma team.
“There are several new sarcoma specialists who are coming [to MSKCC] this year. I’m excited to have them and get them involved in GIST,” raves Tap.
Regardless of where these specialists are practicing, they want to assure all of the GIST survivors out there that they will never have to look far for a GIST physician.
“The doctors have shifted around,” says Tap, “But they’re still out there and they are dedicated to GIST patients.”
Dr. Tap can now be reached at MSKCC at the following number: (212) 639-5720.
To get an appointment for Dr. Trent after September 18, you can call 305-243-5302 or 1-800-545-2292, Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 5PM.
Since his last day is August 8, Dr. Trent has offered his personal email for any patients who need to contact him:firstname.lastname@example.org