The endocrine neoplasia multidisciplinary disease group includes endocrine surgeons, endocrinologists, head and neck (ENT) surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, a dedicated endocrine diagnostic radiology and pathology group, specialized advanced practice providers, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, genetic counselors, and others.
Visit DukeHealth.org for more information about endocrine cancer.
Our team offers personalized therapies based on biopsies and molecular testing, which means that treatments are tailored to the specific type of cancer.
Our surgeons have performed thousands of neck and abdominal endocrine-specific surgical procedures, ranging from minimally invasive to complex. Novel surgical techniques are employed, including minimally parathyroid and thyroid surgery and minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic adrenal surgery. Endocrinologists are sub-specialized, focusing their entire clinical practice on treating all forms of endocrine neoplasia disease and working alongside surgeons to ensure optimal treatment pre-operatively, during surgery, and post-operatively.
Goals include lower complication rates, shorter hospital stays, lower overall costs, less likelihood of cancer recurrence, and fewer repeat operations as compared to nationally published data.
Challenging cases are discussed in a multidisciplinary fashion at a weekly tumor board attended by experts from surgery, endocrinology, pathology, radiology, and oncology.
Patient support services assist patients in maintaining quality of life throughout treatment and recovery. Adult and pediatric patients are seen at Duke Cancer Centers in Durham and Raleigh.
As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the endocrine neoplasia group is recognized for exploring new treatment opportunities. They work with the American Thyroid Association, the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, and the National Comprehensive Center Network to help set the national standards for best practice treatment guidelines. Duke was also one of the first institutions to work with the Collaborative Endocrine Surgery Quality Improvement Program to improve quality in endocrine surgery.
The endocrine cancer disease group specializes in:
Our research encompasses the different diseases of the thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, and adrenal glands.
Health Services Research
Translational Research: The endocrine neoplasia group has an encompassing interest in cross-disciplinary translational research, including parathyroid thyroid disease.
Related News Results
Breast surgical oncologist and Mary and Deryl Hart Distinguished Professor of Surgery Eun-Sil Shelley Hwang, MD, MHS, with Oluwadamilola "Lola" Fayanju, MD, MA, MPHS, FACS, in early 2020.
Dr. Hwang was Chief of Breast Surgery at Duke at that time and Dr. Fayanju was an assistant professor of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology. Dr. Fayanju is currently Chief of the Breast Surgery Division at Penn Medicine.
A study initiated at Duke University School of Medicine lays bare significant racial and gender disparities in America’s surgical leadership.
Of the 2,165 faculty members included across 154 departments, men overwhelmingly claimed the top spots in surgical leadership, making up 85.9% of department chairs, 68.4% of vice chairs, and a staggering 87% of division chiefs.
What’s more a mere 8.9% of these leadership roles were filled by those from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.
While women made a modest showing as vice chairs at 31.6%, they remained underrepresented elsewhere. Many of these women and those from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups were clustered in roles linked to diversity and faculty development, which might not pave the way to top department positions.
The study in JAMA Surgery — led by Oluwadamilola “Lola” M. Fayanju, MD — stands out because the research team of surgeons, trainees, and biostatisticians looked in detail at different leadership roles and the implications these disparities have for the pipeline to department chair.
CONTINUE READING at the Duke University School of Medicine Newsroom
Duke University Marching Band Kicks Off the DCI 50th Celebration (photo by Drawbridge Media)
On Thursday, April 14, 2022, Duke Cancer Institute clinical providers, researchers, staff, and leadership came together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center (now called Duke Cancer Institute).
As the DCI 50th kickoff celebration was gearing up on the grassy circle in front of Duke Cancer Center building in Durham, a few patients stopped by the adjacent Seese-Thornton Garden of Tranquility for some respite.
On February 2016, Tara Wilkes left her job as a decorator and furniture sales associate, locked the door of she and her husband's second home on Lake Waccamaw and moved back inland to the family home in Rockingham, North Carolina, for good.
The then-54-year-old was tired all the time. She could no longer wear her rings because her fingers were always swollen and one of her shoulders hurt. She attributed this to walking a 40,000-square-foot showroom, daily, and she figured she’d pulled her rotater cuff carrying heavy fabrics up and down the stairs of her clients’ coastal homes. But her local physician couldn't find anything wrong with her shoulder.
Not long after, while out shopping in Pinehurst, NC, and her shoulder still ailing, she turned jaundiced — her pale skin was suddenly noticeably yellow. She went straight to the ED. An astute doctor had connected her shoulder pain to a possible gallbladder problem and ordered an endoscopy — a nonsurgical procedure used to examine the digestive tract. Her gallbladder as it turned out, was indeed damaged. It was due to the pancreatic tumor nearby pressing against it.
Tara was referred to Duke surgeon Sabino Zani Jr., MD, and Duke Cancer Institute oncologist Niharika Mettu, MD, PhD. She underwent five-and-a-half weeks of radiation and chemotherapy (in pill form), and in June that year underwent Whipple surgery (a pancreaticoduodenectomy) — a complex procedure during which the head of the pancreas is removed along with a portion of the bile duct, gallbladder, and the first portion of the small intestine. After 13 once-a-week IV chemotherapy treatments after surgery, Tara was told, just in time for Christmas 2016, that there was no evidence of disease.
“One of the things that Dr. Mettu said to me, when I was cleared, was that it was time to start living my life again,” recalled Tara. The young grandmother, who turned 55 that October, went out and did that.
She spent the next year, 2017, doing what she loved, including going to the beach, taking walks, playing with her grandchildren, visiting elderly shut-ins, restoring furniture, and painting. She painted a giant sunflower onto a barn door on her property, and hand-painted pillows and oven mitts as Christmas gifts for family and friends that have taken care of her and prayed with her through her cancer “ordeal.” She and her devoted husband and designated caregiver Neal hosted a Christmas party at their house that year.
That was the abridged version of Tara Wilkes' cancer story (written for the Duke Cancer Institute blog in January 2018), the genesis of which was a message from Neal Wilkes.
“Tara would love to talk and has a story to share,” wrote Neal in an email. “Tara has a deep faith in God, many prayers, and a great team of doctors. God led us to Duke and this was and is the key to her success.”
Following the publication of that article, the couple sent this message: “Hopefully this will inspire others with this dreadful cancer.”
Dr. Mettu couldn't give a prognosis for Wilkes (Tara) at the time, except to say that she and the other patient featured in that same article (Dolly Dunnagan) "had done well, perhaps better than average.”
“I am always inspired by the optimism of my patients with pancreatic cancer; so many of my patients find the ability to make the best of this situation and are very much invested in helping to further our treatments for this disease by participating in research that will move the needle forward in pancreatic cancer,” she said.
In October 2021, Dr. Mettu reached out to share some good news: “You had previously written about Ms. Tara Wilkes in 2018. She is now five years out from completing her therapy for pancreatic cancer and is disease-free, and what we would consider cured.”
The only drug Tara had regularly taken over the past five years was Vitamin D and Calcium.
On December 6, 2021, four years since we'd last corresponded via email and phone, Tara, her husband Neal, and I (the author of the article) reunited over Zoom — to celebrate the milestone of reaching that magic number 5, and to spread the word about pancreatic cancer for a new article.
They caught me up on the last few years.
“We've been camping and we spend time with the grandchildren. And, of course, we do a lot in the yard and things like that,” said Tara, who turned 60 in October.
The couple’s four grandchildren, all of whom live in state, are of course growing fast and there’s a fifth on the way, they shared.
Tara and Neal still live on the same lake in Rockingham. They mentioned that they now have a pontoon boat that they take out often. And that they also bought a little pop-up camper — Tara handled the remodeling and interior decorating. Together they’ve traveled and camped in their favorite spots, like Travelers Rest at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina, Bodie Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and scenic overlooks in the Georgia mountains.
Sharlene Mitchell, pancreatic cancer survivor. (photo by Duke Health)
After a lengthy surgery failed to remove a cancerous mass from her pancreas, Sharlene Mitchell’s doctors told her nothing more could be done. Mitchell, however, was not ready to give up hope and sought a second opinion at Duke. Because of her determination, she is now cancer-free and thankful for every day.
READ HER STORY
Tom Dinwiddie kept busy in between treatments. He replaced the roof on his house and installed a new washer and dryer in his utility room. “
Tom Dinwiddie, 69, was featured in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Cancer four years ago for having survived 30 months past an end-stage cancer diagnosis. He’s now lived nearly six years with no evidence of recurrent or metastatic disease.
Just after Thanksgiving last year, he made a special trip to Duke Cancer Center to share his story, explaining that it was his “moral obligation” to get the word out.
“In 10 months, I went from incurable to cured,” Dinwiddie said. “I've come back every year since. I’m not giving up these appointments.”
It was on April 2, 2012, that Dinwiddie’s local gastroenterologist in High Point, NC diagnosed him with metastatic stage 4 poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma of the pancreas. A CT scan revealed a 5-centimeter mass in the head of his pancreas and multiple tumors in his liver. A biopsy confirmed it was cancer.
His gastroenterologist said nothing could be done and he only had a couple months to live.
“When you hear the words it’s like getting hit upside the head with a brick,” said Dinwiddie, his voice trembling. “I cried myself to sleep.”
The next morning Dinwiddie told his wife Diane that he wasn’t going to “lay here and wait to die.”
“I was fighting mad,” recalled Dinwiddie. “I called the doctor back and said, “Look, if this was five years from now there would probably be a cure. Can you help me find a doctor who can keep me alive for five years? That’s my goal.”
He was offered referrals to MD Anderson, The Moffitt Center and Duke Cancer Institute. Duke Cancer Institute stepped up to take on Dinwiddie’s case.
FOR PANCREATIC CANCER SURVIVORS, THE FUTURE IS PARTICULARLY UNCERTAIN (at left) Tara and Neal Wilkes and their pet beagle enjoyed a hike in the Georgia mountains in Fall 2015. A few months later, Tara was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. (at right) Dolly Dunnagan and her husband Jim worked together their entire married life as co-owners of a John Deere dealership in Roxboro, North Carolina. Now retired, Dolly said they “date on the weekends — usually fishing.” The two women had the same oncologist and two different journeys.
In February 2016, Tara Wilkes left her job as a decorator and furniture sales associate, locked the door of her second home on Lake Waccamaw and moved back inland to the family home in Rockingham, North Carolina.
“I just couldn’t do my job,” said Wilkes, a petite and active 56-year-old grandmother of four. “I was tired, really tired -- and there was the swelling. I could no longer wear my rings, and my shoulder hurt.”
Wilkes had been the picture of health and vitality just a few months before, when she and her husband Neal, a businessman who’s often traveling, got a break from their busy schedules for a hiking getaway in the Georgia mountains.
Wilkes attributed the swelling to walking the 40,000-square-foot showroom, daily, and she figured she’d pulled her rotator cuff carrying heavy fabrics up and down the stairs of her clients’ coastal homes. Her local physician didn’t find anything wrong with her shoulder.
However, a trip to the emergency room when she turned jaundiced while out shopping, led to the eventual discovery of a tumor in her pancreas. An astute doctor connected her shoulder pain to a possible gallbladder problem and ordered an endoscopy — a nonsurgical procedure used to examine the digestive tract. Her gallbladder as it turned out, was indeed damaged, due to the pancreatic tumor nearby pressing against it.
Wilkes was referred to Duke surgeon Sabino Zani Jr., MD, and oncologist Niharika Mettu, MD, PhD. She underwent five-and-a-half weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, and in June that year had the Whipple procedure (a pancreaticoduodenectomy), in which the head of the pancreas is removed along with a portion of the bile duct, gallbladder, and the first portion of the small intestine. After undergoing 12 once-a-week intravenous chemotherapy treatments following surgery, and just in time for Christmas 2016, Wilkes was declared cancer free. Healthy again, she made a photo from that 2015 Georgia hiking trip into that year’s Christmas card.