Behind the Science

Meet the Doctor: Peter Baik, DO

Thoracic Surgeon, Cancer Treatment Centers of America®, Tulsa, Oklahoma

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As a thoracic surgeon, what are some of the surgical procedures you perform for patients?

Some of the procedures I perform are VATS (video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery) lung resection (wedge, lobectomy and segmentectomy), thoracotomy, pneumonectomy, resection of mediastinal tumors, pleural biopsy, pleurodesis and esophagectomy. My main concern is for the safety and the health of the patient, so I make sure that any surgery performed is safe for the patient above all else.

Are there any current advances in thoracic surgery that you think are especially exciting?

The use of the new da Vinci® Xi Surgical System to perform procedures is exciting because of its capabilities. The new features of the robotic equipment allow us to reach more places on the body througha better range of motion, giving us an opportunity to treat more types of cancer. More importantly, directed therapy using molecular markers and genetics will further enhance treatment options for patients.

What do you think patients should know about thoracic surgery in the wake of a cancer diagnosis?

“Thoracic surgery” refers to operations on organs in the chest, including the heart, lungs and esophagus. Examples of thoracic surgery include coronary bypass surgery, heart transplant, lung transplant and the removal of parts of the lung affected by cancer. A thoracic surgeon, as a multidisciplinary team member, will aid in diagnosing and staging and will provide surgical options for a patient.

What brought you to Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)?

I took care of a patient who was a former nurse at CTCA® in Chicago, Illinois, and in making small talk I asked her how she liked working there. She responded with “It’s the most amazing place I’ve ever worked! They treat a patient like a human being.” When a position for a thoracic surgeon became available, I decided to apply. I was impressed with the integrative model, especially the extensive nutritional and mind-body support services that are offered, as well as acupuncture.

What is most inspiring to you as you work with patients?

For me it is inspiring to see the hope and the positivity that cancer patients have, regardless of their diagnosis. When I was in college, I worked as a phlebotomist. On my first day, I drew a patient’s blood, and several months later she came back and asked if I remembered her. She remembered me because she said I “looked so nervous” that first day. I spoke with her and learned that she had come in to have a mastectomy. Despite the reason for her visit, she was full of hope and was trying to comfort me when I showed concern for her.


WHEN I AM NOT WORKING WITH PATIENTS OR CONDUCTING RESEARCH, YOU CAN FIND ME spending time with my two young daughters, exploring the zoo, visiting museums, going to the aquarium, relaxing with family and friends or grilling.

THE NEXT PLACE I’D LOVE TO VISIT is the Oklahoma Aquarium.

IF I WERE NOT A PHYSICIAN, I WOULD LIKELY BE an aerospace engineer, designing things that defy gravity.