Frank Detterbeck, MD, is a nationally renowned thoracic surgeon who performs mostly minimally invasive surgeries for a variety of benign and cancerous conditions that affect the chest. He treats conditions including lung cancer, esophageal cancer chest wall tumors and other life-threatening diseases.
Dr. Detterbeck finds his care often goes beyond performing surgery and into helping patients manage all the psychosocial and other issues that can accompany these diseases. “One of the things I really enjoy is helping people walk down a path. It can be a difficult and scary one. But if I can more or less take somebody by the hand and say we’re going to walk down that path together, it’s a different experience than if they have to go there alone,” Dr. Detterbeck says.
As Yale Medicine’s chief of thoracic surgery, Dr. Detterbeck leads a team of doctors, each of whom is nationally recognized in the field. They use the latest diagnostic technologies and surgical techniques, including some that are available in only a handful of locations worldwide. Minimally invasive and robotic surgeries are making the treatment of thoracic diseases easier to tolerate, he says, even for those patients who were considered too high-risk for procedures at other institutions, or who may have had complications from a previous surgery.
But tools and techniques are only part of care, he says. “In addition to the tests we perform, listening to what a patient has to say gives a lot of clues about what’s going on.” He has learned that patients have different opinions about their care—some are willing to try new treatments, others are very conservative. “Those are important values that need to be part of any decision,” he says.
In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Detterbeck is director of thoracic oncology and a professor of surgery (thoracic) at Yale School of Medicine. He has long been an advocate of evidence-based care and multidisciplinary teamwork. Most recently he served as a leader on a national level in the revision of lung cancer staging, a way of classifying the different stages of the disease. He also played a leading role in establishing guidelines for lung cancer screening.
Dr. Detterbeck has been included on a regional list of top doctors.