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Photo of Daniel G. Coit, M.D.


Daniel G. Coit, MD

I am a surgical oncologist whose primary area of clinical and research interest is melanoma. In 1991, I introduced lymph-node mapping and sentinel lymph-node biopsy for melanoma and other selected skin cancers. Together, these procedures can determine during surgery whether a tumor has spread to surrounding lymph nodes. Using lymph node mapping, we can pinpoint the precise lymph node into which a nearby tumor is likely to travel first (called the sentinel node). If a biopsy of the sentinel node indicates cancer spread, the surrounding lymph nodes are removed. But if there is no evidence of cancer in the sentinel node, patients are spared from additional lymph node surgery. Read more My research has focused primarily on detecting and defining the clinical significance of individual melanoma cells in the sentinel lymph nodes, blood, and bone marrow of melanoma patients, with the goal of identifying patients at highest risk of cancer recurrence following surgery to remove a melanoma. I served as Chief of the Gastric and Mixed Tumor Service in Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Department of Surgery from 1997 until October 2003. This service focuses primarily on the surgical management of less common malignancies, including melanoma, sarcoma, gastric cancer, and pancreatic cancer, and also provides surgical support for the Lymphoma Service. I currently serve as a co-leader of the Melanoma Disease Management Team — a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, medical oncologists, pathologists, and other medical professionals at Memorial Sloan Kettering who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of melanoma. On a national and international level, I am involved in advancing new ways to diagnose and treat melanoma as a member of the American Joint Commission on Cancer Melanoma Staging Committee, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Melanoma Advisory Group, the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer Melanoma Working Group, the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group’s Melanoma Working Group, and the World Health Organization Melanoma Committee. In addition to my interest in melanoma, I also have an expertise in the treatment of gastric cancer. I served on the program committee of the International Gastric Cancer National Meeting in 2001. And in 2002, I was co-leader of the Gastric Cancer Working Group of the National Cancer Institute’s Stomach Cancer Progress Review Group. I am currently the co-principal investigator of two gastric cancer studies at Memorial Sloan Kettering. The first evaluates the effectiveness of chemotherapy prior to surgery in high-risk gastric cancer patients, and the second is a “Quality of Life Assessment” of gastric cancer patients. I am also an active member of the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group Upper GI Cancer Working Group. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center plays a key role in training oncology doctors, and I have had a long-standing interest in the training of surgical oncology fellows. I served as the Director of Surgical Education for the Surgical Oncology Fellowship Training Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering from 1991 to 1997, and I was Director of the Society of Surgical Oncology Training Committee, where I oversaw the administration of all surgical oncology fellowships across the nation from 1994 to 1999. As part of my interest in spreading information we have learned about cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I have lectured extensively, both nationally and internationally, and authored a number of manuscripts and reviews on various surgical oncology topics.

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Interview with Daniel G. Coit





(0:05 - 1:22)




(1:23 - 8:43)

What are the greatest achievements in the management of melanoma? Learn about the amazing history of treatment for melanoma: narrower margins in surgery, sentinel lymph node biopsy, immunotherapy & targeted therapy. Dramatic improvement in the survival of patients with metastatic melanoma.



(8:44 - 12:42)

How does Dr. Coit communicate with his patents? The importance of having an expert team. What is it like to present a difficult case at the Melanoma Disease management team? 



(12:42 - 20:30)

What is sentinel Lymph node biopsy (SLNB) ? What is the consultation process like for a patient? What is the day like for a patient who is undergoing SLNB? How long does it take to get the results back? 



(20:31 - 24:06)

What are the complications? Lymphedema is the major side effect: 1-2% in the arms, 3-5% in the legs. How does SLNB help to refine the prediction in prognosis?



(24:07 - 31:43)

What is the role of the complete lymph node dissection? Why are we doing less of this procedure? How did prospective randomized studies help to determine the role of complete lymph node dissection? What are the complications? What are the monitoring methods as an alternative to complete lymph node dissection?



(31:44 - 35:56)

SLNB controversy. What to do for a 50-year-old patient with a melanoma 0.8mm and no ulceration? What factors are needed to make the decision? How to use statistics to determine your decision – a must-hear answer.



(35:56 - 38:18)

Last words of wisdom – “trying to put surgeons out of business… The revolution is genomics."

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