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Introducing Nayel Khan to Texas Oncology Surgical Specialists–San Antonio Stone Oak

February 23, 2024

Nayel Khan, M.D., head and neck surgeon, is now seeing patients at Texas Oncology Surgical Specialists–San Antonio Stone Oak. Dr. Khan discusses his thoughts on the evolution of surgical oncology and his most rewarding volunteer experience.

What has been a defining moment in your medical education?

Early in my medical education, I had the privilege of taking care of a veteran with laryngeal cancer, or cancer of the voicebox. His trust in his care team, patience with his healing process, and the grace and positive attitude with which he navigated his treatments cemented my desire to help those with head and neck cancer. The importance of the head and neck in how we connect with the world was driven home by watching him interact with family, nurses, and staff using a pen and paper. This spurred my interest in and passion for treating cancers of the head and neck.

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

Today, the treatment of head and neck cancer is based on knowing what kind of cancer it is, where it is located or spread to, and what stage it is. I think that cancer treatments will become more nuanced as our understanding of the molecular drivers of cancer improves. We will instead ask "How do we treat this specific cancer in this specific patient in a way that is acceptable to them?" A deeper understanding of cancer will lead to more tailored treatments, allowing us to focus on quality of life as well as treating the cancer.

What are you most looking forward to as cancer treatment continues to evolve?

As a surgeon, I look forward to the development of more accurate and precise methods of ensuring the tumor is fully removed during surgery. Currently, we take up to two centimeters of tissue beyond the edge of the tumor. However, resecting this extra margin of tissue does not always guarantee that all the cancer will be removed. I hope to soon use more precise imaging techniques to ensure a more tailored approach that prioritizes both treatment and minimizing morbidity.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy cooking, hiking, and spending time with my family.

What’s the best volunteer experience you had and what did you do?

My most rewarding volunteer experience was being the director of ear, nose, and throat services at the local free clinic as a resident in Pittsburgh. During my time there, I transitioned from solely providing care to taking on a leadership role and petitioning for greater funding and support. It was unbelievably satisfying to see our clinic become an established, well-funded, and well-attended facility serving our community.

What are you looking forward to exploring in San Antonio?

I am very excited to explore the amazing food scene that San Antonio has to offer, as well as all the outdoor activities in the area with my family.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.