Monday, November 4, 2019

His sarcoma patients inspire Dr. William Tseng

Dr. William Tseng
Sarcoma Alliance volunteer Kalyse Engebretson interviewed William Tseng, a surgical oncologist at Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. 

What do you find most interesting and/or enjoyable about your job?

The most interesting aspect of being a sarcoma surgeon is the fact that each case is different and requires a lot of thinking and planning to do what is best for the individual patient. The treatment usually involves surgery (that’s what I do!) but no two operations are the same and sometimes it may even be best to do other therapies first. There is nothing routine or straightforward about my job!

What might most people be surprised to learn about your job?

Sarcoma is all that I do. Although it is very rare, to me, it isn’t just a unique case I had a few months ago or even just a part of my practice along with one or two other diseases – it is the entirety of my job. I think that it is an important obligation to the sarcoma patient to be a true specialist and not just someone who “dabbles.”

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Telling a patient that I can’t remove the sarcoma, that it is “unresectable.” I still think it is important to be honest and direct and I make every effort to help them understand why.

What keeps you inspired/motivated?

My patients and their strength and courage. I can’t take away their sarcoma diagnosis, but I strive to educate and inform them, relieve their anxiety, and give them hope -- along with treating their disease. What motivates me is being able to take sarcoma patients from new diagnosis to successful treatment, being able to say several months later, based on a follow up CT or MRI: “There is no evidence of disease.”

For more information on Dr. Tseng: 
https://www.keckmedicine.org/meet-william-tseng-md-clinical-surgery/