Killing Cancer – For Good: The Course That Is Educating Doctors To The Next Level

Finding a cure for cancer is considered the holy grail by many in the medical profession. And with good reason. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, after heart disease.

It is expected there will be 1.9 million new cancer cases and 609,360 deaths from cancer by the end of 2022. That equates to 1,670 deaths a day.

In the United States, head and neck cancer accounts for 3 percent of malignancies, totaling approximately 66,000 cases annually and 15,000 deaths.

While the race to stop the disease continues, some doctors are ensuring their peers can be as educated as possible regarding preventing cancer from affecting patients.

Their mission? To stop cancer killing people – for good.

Samih Nassif, MD, is one such doctor. He is currently an American Head and Neck Society Fellow at AdventHealth Celebration. He created the groundbreaking Tufts Medical Center Sinus Dissection Course taught at the organization’s location at Tufts Medical Center in downtown Boston, MA.

The first of its kind in their hospital, it provides education and experience for training doctors to learn how they can best treat nose and throat cancers in a minimally invasive manner. The goal? To free their patients from the scourge of the disease forever.

Dr. Nassif says being able to create this essential course has been a passion project.

And there is no doubt that this in-depth level of training could only have been created by someone of his caliber, thanks to his expertise and exemplary understanding of the nuances of the disease in this area.

“Being able to offer patients the opportunity of hope and survival, as well as enabling other doctors to understand how to remove cancer from someone permanently, is an honor,” says Dr. Nassif.

The course started in 2021, and so far, six residents have completed the first year, and six more have been inducted for the 2022 intake.

Dr. Nassif, who was born in Colombia, was inspired to become a doctor by his father, who is a plastic surgeon.

He says he is very aware of what a privilege it is to be able to come to the US to study medicine.

He attended college in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then completed his studies at Boston University School of Medicine. He then completed his specialty training in Otolaryngology while at Tufts Medical Center.

Course leaders were so impressed by his ability he was awarded a scholarship of excellence to assist with his work.

Dr. Nassif realized his true calling here – to be a head and neck surgeon with a specific focus on cancer.

Dr. Nassif says: “As far as I was concerned, I was going to be a general surgeon. But then I got the opportunity to focus on head and neck cancer, and it became a passion. I knew I could make a difference in people’s lives by focusing on this area.”

Now, Dr. Nassif is considered one of the most forward-thinking in the specialist field of head and neck cancers.

He has also been awarded the Ann and David Mishel Cancer Research Award to testify to his superior abilities and interest in oncology research.

The surgeon, who performs head and neck cancer operations at least four times a week, says his main goal is to save as much of a patient’s face as he can when operating.

“I appreciate and understand that this is essential when operating on head and neck cancers. Having any cancer is incredibly traumatic. However, when you add that a person could be changing the way their face looks, it is even more difficult.

“I have focused on specializing in this area to be the best and give patients the best outcome achievable.”

Undoubtedly, Dr. Nassif is well respected and admired for his oncology (cancer) research, specifically in the ear, nose, and throat areas. His work has been published in multiple peer-reviewed publications – a testament to his experience and ability.

As well as this, his exceptional research study into the link between the Human Papillomavirus and head and neck cancer and how a vaccine can be developed to stop it.

Dr. Nassif adds: “I see it as a privilege to be able to operate on my patients. I learn from them every day. My main goal is to do as much as possible to make them feel at ease and comfortable.”

Andrew R. Scott, MD, FACS, is the Otolaryngology Residency Program Director at Tufts Medical Center.

They both sat as judges on the Incoming Resident Selection Committee. The competition to get a placement was fierce. Dr. Nassif was assessing each entrant to see if they were befitting of winning a placement.

Dr. Scott revealed what a privilege it was to work with Dr. Nassif: “It is evident that Dr. Nassif’s talents surpass those of many Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery specialists, both in the United States and worldwide.

“He has gained academic and clinical recognition as a rising star in our field.”

J. Scot Magnuson, MD, the Director of Head and Neck Surgery and Medical Director at AdventHealth Cancer Institute, Celebration, Florida, works with Dr. Nassif on a regular basis.

Dr. Magnuson said: “The surgeries that we do are quite complex. And typically, are not performed by someone who’s gone through a residency program and practices what I call general otolaryngology. These cases are advanced and often include transplants and could be even up to eight to 10 hours long.

“They can be quite disfiguring to patients. Imagine if we have to remove someone’s entire tongue. We have to build a new tongue and graft it from tissue that we harvest from another part of the body. It takes a very specific skill set.”

Jennifer Harb, MD, is a specialist in Otolaryngology (Head and Neck Surgery) and has worked closely with Dr. Nassif.

They have also worked as fellow judges on assessing the final contributor work to be included in the research paper: “Point-of-care ultrasound scan as the primary modality for evaluating parotid tumors.”

Dr. Nassif provided unprecedented insight into how to successfully diagnose tumors in glands on the face for competitive analysis.

She said: “Dr. Nassif has always had an above-average knowledge base. His surgical skills are excellent. Even from the very beginning of his training, his knowledge base rivaled our most senior residents and attendings, and this has only grown since then.

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