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Dr. Gustavo E. Guajardo Salinas: Cancer and Thoracic Surgery

April 20, 2021

Gustavo E. Guajardo Salinas, M.D., joined Texas Oncology in 2020 as the practice’s first thoracic surgeon. Dr. Guajardo sees patients at Texas Oncology Surgical Specialists–San Antonio Stone Oak and San Antonio Medical Center. He explains the importance of thoracic surgery as part of treatment for patients with lung and esophageal cancers, among others.

What is thoracic surgery?

Thoracic surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that focuses on the chest area. My specialty is non-cardiac thoracic surgery, which is basically everything that is not related to the heart itself. I treat patients with cancers in the lungs, esophagus, diverticula, ribs, and chest wall.

Do all of your patients have cancer?

About 30% of my patients don’t have cancer. They may have nodules, cysts, or masses that need to be removed, or fluid in their chest that keeps coming back. There are numerous reasons a patient may need thoracic surgery, and not all of them are for cancer.

Are there any common misconceptions about thoracic surgery?

With surgery in general, people seem to think that if they’re referred to a surgeon that they’re going to go through a difficult surgical procedure with a lengthy recovery time – this is far from the truth. Most of my work involves minimally invasive techniques. One of the best parts of my job is operating on a patient and seeing them walking around just a few hours later, and then going home to recover. It’s amazing what is possible thanks to technological advancements in cancer care.

One of the best parts of my job is operating on a patient and seeing them walking around just a few hours later, and then going home to recover."

What role does thoracic surgery play as part of a cancer patient’s treatment plan?

Thoracic surgery is an important part of the cancer treatment plan – especially for patients with lung and esophageal cancers. Every patient’s situation is different. At Texas Oncology, our patients may need chemotherapy and radiation in addition to surgery. Our physicians stay close to ensure seamless coordination of care.

What do you want patients to know about thoracic surgery?

I treat patients the way I would want someone to take care of my own family. There are some things in healthcare that we simply can’t control, but we do our absolute best to control what we can. Having cancer can be overwhelming and the though of surgery can be scary. It’s okay to be nervous, but I want our patients to be confident in their care. At Texas Oncology, we care about our patients and want the very best for them and their families.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.