“My heart is in patient care. Everything else I do – the teaching, the research – is an extension of that, preparing the next generation of physicians to provide great care.”
“When I’m teaching young medical students, I remind them to always focus on the patient and really listen to what the patient is saying,” says UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center oncologist Sukeshi Arora, M.D. “That’s a challenge in an era when so much about healthcare has become so technical.”
For Dr. Arora, her focus on the patient first possibly stems from her inspiration for studying medicine in the first place. “When I started, I wanted to be a primary care physician, because of the opportunity to build long-term relationships with my patients and their families,” she recalls. “But when I really got into it, I saw a similar opportunity – probably more of one – in oncology.”
“We are very specialized in the field of cancer care, but, because a cancer diagnosis affects almost everything else in a patient’s life, we are also called upon to be very holistic and personalized in our approach to care,” says Dr. Arora.
At UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson, Dr. Arora focuses on cancers of the gastrointestinal system, generally, and colorectal cancer, more specifically. She is a John Eiler-endowed research professor at UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson and leader of its gastrointestinal malignancies unit. “It is an exciting field of care and study because we have so many options available for prevention, treatment, and patient comfort,” Dr. Arora says.
Much of Dr. Arora’s work has been devoted to educating the public and young physicians about the importance of early screening in the prevention of colorectal cancer. “As challenging as it may be to think about a colonoscopy, it can save your life,” Dr. Arora stresses. “Colorectal cancer is entirely preventable if precursor conditions, such as family history or the presence of intestinal polyps (which can become cancerous) are identified early.”
For patients with a family history of digestive cancers, Dr. Arora points to innovative work already underway at UT Health San Antonio. “Our research involving chemo-prevention, diet modification, genetic screening, and immunotherapies is incredibly exciting and is already saving lives.” Personally, Dr. Arora has spent years on her study of autophagy modulation as a potential treatment for colon cancer. The technique stands to overcome resistance to chemotherapy.
Reducing patient discomfort and maximizing the quality of life is another core focus of Dr. Arora’s research. It is an outgrowth, she says, of her focus on each patient’s needs. “My heart is in patient care. Everything else I do – the teaching, the research – is an extension of that, preparing the next generation of physicians to provide great care,” says Dr. Arora.
Before her current positions with UT Health San Antonio, Dr. Arora previously served the institution as a fellow in Hematology and Oncology. She earned her medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical school in 2008 and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at UT Health San Antonio in 2011. A diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine, Dr. Arora also chairs or serves on numerous clinical and academic committees within the UT Health System.
To learn more about the family of experts at UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, or to schedule an appointment, visit UTHealthsaMDAnderson.org or call 210-450-1000.