Charles Cha, MD, is a cancer surgeon and the director of the Minimally Invasive Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery Program, which provides laparoscopic and robotic liver, pancreas, and stomach procedures to treat cancer patients at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven. He specializes in benign and malignant diseases of the colon, esophagus, liver, stomach, and pancreas, and in cases where cancer has spread to the liver.
Dr. Cha often performs complex surgeries to remove tumors that are available only at a limited number of institutions across the country. He is one of the few surgeons in the region who can treat these conditions drawing upon his own considerable experience in laparoscopic (minimally invasive) and robotic surgeries, which use high-resolution cameras and micro-surgical tools attached to a robot arm controlled from a computer. When a patient is not a good candidate for surgery, Dr. Cha may use image-guided ablative techniques to treat tumors.
“My goal is to perform the best possible operation to not only treat the problem, but to also reduce incision size, improve recovery, and lessen the stress on patients following surgery,” Dr. Cha says.
Dr. Cha typically works with a team of specialists to come up with the best plan, combining the latest targeted therapies and surgical techniques, tailored to each patient.
“What keeps me going is the ability to treat the most complex and challenging tumors in patients who have often been told by others that their tumor is inoperable,” Dr. Cha says. “These patients often come in overwhelmed, anxious and fearful of their diagnosis, and our goal is to provide compassion and care, as well as the best surgical therapies possible to treat them and get them to the point where they are cancer-free. It is that ability to give patients hope—and a chance for a long, productive life—that is incredibly fulfilling. It’s why I became a surgeon,” he says.
Dr. Cha is an associate professor of oncologic and gastrointestinal surgery at Yale School of Medicine. When he is not in the operating room or clinic, he is actively investigating novel therapies through both basic science research collaborations and clinical trials that could improve care for people with cancer. “Some of these novel targeted therapies have shown activity in pancreatic cancer as well as melanoma, and studies are ongoing to bring them into the clinic,” he says.