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Texas Oncology–Austin Central Welcomes Dr. Mike Lattanzi

September 06, 2022

Mike Lattanzi, M.D., hematologist and medical oncologist, is now seeing patients at Texas Oncology—Austin Central. Dr. Lattanzi shares how his passion for scientific discovery led him to specialize in cancer care and what he looks forward to most about moving across the country to Austin.

Did you always know you wanted to be an oncologist? If not, what led you to specialize in cancer care?

Since medical school, I have been fascinated by the scientific process of learning from patient care to identify important medical questions and create new, more effective therapies for patients. The field of oncology has fully embraced this scientific process to revolutionize the way we treat cancer. Over the last 15 years, these developments, such as immunotherapy and precision medicine, have greatly improved survivorship and quality of life for patients living with certain cancers.

Within oncology, I am specifically interested in cancers of the genitourinary tract, including bladder, kidney, and prostate cancer. The diversity and complexity of these cancers allow me to use a wide variety of different treatments to help patients live longer lives with fewer symptoms.

What would you like your legacy as a physician to be?

While we have made great strides in cancer treatment, not all patients respond the same. As a researcher, I would like to leave a legacy of accelerating the pace of scientific discovery through leading-edge clinical trials to develop new and more effective therapies. I am fortunate to work with a group of forward-thinking physicians at Texas Oncology who are also motivated to expand clinical trial access to patients close to home.

What do you think the future of cancer treatment will look like?

Out of all the remarkable advancements of modern science, the one with the clearest potential to revolutionize cancer care is the detection of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). In the future, I predict blood-based ctDNA testing will replace much of the imaging, screening, and tissue-based diagnostic testing we use today. As the technology to measure ctDNA improves further in the coming years, it might one day be possible to detect cancer in its earliest stages before progressing into an aggressive or invasive tumor.

What has working with cancer patients taught you about resiliency of the human spirit?

As a physician, I have had many conversations with patients during some of the most challenging moments of their lives. While the uncertainty of cancer can be fearful, I am constantly inspired by the fearlessness and composure of my patients. No matter the circumstance, nearly all of my patients have found ways to set aside their diagnosis and embrace the important things in life, whether it be family, friends, values, or passions. Their resiliency inspires me to actively prioritize what is important in my life too.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Austin?

My wife and I recently moved to Austin after living in New York City for more than a decade. Once the Texas summer heat subsides, we are excited to spend time outdoors and attend live music events, paddleboard on Lake Austin, eat authentic Texas barbeque – worth the hype in my opinion – and enjoy the beautiful hill country. We are also eagerly expecting the arrival of our first child later this year, and I could not be more excited to make Austin our home for growing a family.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I had an unusual first job as a professional corn pollinator. I grew up in Delaware, and every year the University of Delaware offered high school students the opportunity to work during the summer as “genetics research assistants.” I really needed a summer job and I liked biology, so I signed up. What I did not realize until later was that this position was actually under the college of agriculture and the organism whose genetics I would be helping to research was, in fact, corn.

What does a perfect day look like to you?

Hard to say. Between moving to a new city, starting new jobs, getting married, and expecting our first child, 2022 has been an eventful year to say the least. With all the change, my “perfect” day is very much in flux. However, if there is ever a chance to be productive at work, come home, make dinner, and spend time with my wife and friends, I consider that a good day in my book.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.