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Dr. Paul Sugarbaker developed the Sugarbaker procedure, a successful treatment for patients diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma.

About Dr. Paul Sugarbaker

Washington Cancer Institute
106 Irving Street NW, St. 3900
Washington, D.C. 20010

Dr. Paul Sugarbaker

Dr. Paul H. Sugarbaker is the medical director for the Center for Gastrointestinal Malignancies at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. He’s the most accomplished peritoneal mesothelioma specialist in the United States, and is responsible for developing the cytoreduction with HIPEC, a highly successful multimodal therapy for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma.

Dr. Sugarbaker’s Research and Expertise

Dr. Sugarbaker is also involved in mesothelioma research, including a number of scientific studies aimed at making treatments — both traditional and new — safer and more effective. In a 2014 study, he and several researchers found important information about the cellular makeup of mesothelioma tumors.

Traditionally, doctors believed that mesothelioma tumors were monoclonal, meaning they grew and spread from a single cell. The study in which Dr. Sugarbaker participated, however, showed that mesothelioma tumors are actually polyclonal, meaning that they grow and spread from more than one cell. Knowing the clonality of mesothelioma tumors will allow doctors to create better treatments that target the cellular makeup of cancer, like immunotherapy and gene therapy.

In addition to his research and work as an active mesothelioma surgeon, he’s also published 800 articles, numerous book chapters, and treats other rare abdominal diseases, pseudomyxoma peritonei, peritoneal carcinomatosis and abdominal carcinomas.

Cytoreduction with HIPEC

Cytoreduction with HIPEC is a multimodal therapy, a combination of two or more treatments.


To perform a cytoreduction, doctors remove parts of a the protective lining of the stomach and all visible tumors in the patient’s abdominal area.

HIPEC (Heated Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy)

Shortly after the surgeon completes the cytoreduction, they will bathe the exposed abdominal cavity with heated chemotherapy. This kills remaining cancer cells and helps keep the mesothelioma from recurring.

As the attending surgical oncologist at MedStar, Dr. Sugarbaker has performed close to 1,500 cytoreductions with HIPEC for patients with with various forms of gastrointestinal cancers, including peritoneal mesothelioma.

Surgeons using cytoreduction with HIPEC to treat peritoneal mesothelioma have produced amazing results in the past few years. According to several medical studies, they’ve improved the survival time of several patients from the average of 12 months to an astonishing 5 years; some patients have even survived 7 years after treatment.


Medical Degree
MD, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, 1984

UCLA School of Medicine, 1985 – 1986 and 1989 – 1992


  • Developer of the Sugarbaker Procedure, or cytoreduction with HIPEC, a highly successful treatment for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma.
  • Founding member of the International Society of Regional Cancer Therapy.
  • Founder of the Foundation for Applied Research in Gastrointestinal Oncology (FARGO). FARGO promotes research and spreads awareness about gastrointestinal diseases, like peritoneal mesothelioma.

Research Interests

  • Cytoreductive surgery
  • Perioperative and intraperitoneal chemotherapy

Choosing the Right Doctor

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can get the best treatment — and extend your life expectancy — by connecting to an experienced specialist like Dr. Paul Sugarbaker. Even if you’ve already been diagnosed, getting a second opinion from a doctor who’s diagnosed and treated mesothelioma may open up more treatment options for you, giving you a chance to improve your prognosis.

Reach out to a member of our Patient Help Team today for assistance with finding an experienced doctor, top treatment center, or even financial aid that can pay for treatment. You can also order a free copy of our informational guide for more information about your mesothelioma, treatment options, and how to receive the right care for your prognosis.