First-Person: Dr. Pavlos Papavasiliou
April 9, 2018
Before joining Kaiser Permanente, I served as a surgical oncologist at Baylor University Medical Center Dallas Sammons Cancer Center. I was recruited to Kaiser Permanente to care for members with complex cancers of the pancreas and liver.
I joined NWP because I wanted to be part of an organization that is driving the standard for health care delivery and to help innovate health care delivery. The Permanente Medical Group allows us to always keep the patient at the center of our practice, which is unique compared with most systems.
In my practice, I serve as a surgical oncologist with a focus on treating cancers of the liver, pancreas, and bile ducts. I am also the surgical oncology lead for the cancer service line and sit in the General Surgery Department lead council.
Treating patients, not just the disease
It has become increasingly evident that a team approach across multiple specialties improves outcomes and quality of treatment. I enjoy working in a collaborative environment that allows for ongoing discussion and that challenges me to see my members’ treatment from another point of view. While our team goal as physicians is to improve overall survival, my main priority is to consider what effect these treatments have on our members’ quality of life. My approach to care is multidisciplinary in nature through coordination with many specialists, including medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, nutritionists, and physical therapists, and many others.”
Here’s a story that illustrates how we work together as a team to match a treatment plan with each patient’s unique situation.
A man in our system was scheduled to have his bladder removed for a cancer, and we found that he also had a pancreatic mass that was suspicious for cancer. However, multiple biopsies were not confirmatory.
We presented this to our tumor board because it required input from specialists in urology, surgical oncology, pathology, radiology, medical oncology, and gastroenterology.
The tumor board decided that the pancreatic mass was very suspicious and took precedent over the bladder cancer. We went ahead with operating on the pancreas and did confirm a cancer. We created a plan for the patient to undergo chemotherapy that treated both the pancreatic cancer and the bladder cancer, and, after a while, we would proceed with surgery for the bladder.
This all happened for the patient without a single in-person visit, and the only in-person visit he needed with me was for the preoperative visit. This speaks to the value of our ability to incorporate virtual care into our cancer care model.