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MD What it Really Means to be a Doctor EVEN IN THE HI-TECH WORLD OF RADIATION ONCOLOGY, CHAD RUSTHOVEN PUTS PATIENTS FIRST B Y E R I K A M AT I C H Ask a kid what they want to be when they grow

Rusthoven is part of CU’s renowned thoracic

up and the answers are often predictable – doctor,

oncology team improving outcomes for people

lawyer, cop, firefighter. As a child, Chad Rusthoven,

with lung cancer around the world.

MD always said he wanted to be a doctor – it

“When I was a resident,” Rusthoven recalls,

seemed like a good career choice, frequently

“Brian Kavanagh (MD, MPH, chair of radiation

reinforced by both teachers and parents. Over the

oncology), Ross Camidge (MD, PhD, director

years, he’s learned that being a physician in the

of thoracic oncology), and Bob Doebele (MD,

field of radiation oncology is a far more complex

PhD, director of the Thoracic Oncology Research

and rewarding journey than he ever imagined.

Initiative) were just beginning to look at the

After earning his undergraduate degree in

combination of radiation and targeted therapies

psychology from the University of Florida honors

in lung cancer. Five years later, their work has

college, Rusthoven committed to pursuing

defined some of the key treatment paradigms in

medicine and spent another 10 years in training,

the national guidelines for lung cancer patients with

including medical school at University of South

targetable mutations.”

Florida, internship at Georgetown, and ultimately

As a radiation oncologist, Rusthoven’s job is to

CHAD G. RUSTHOVEN, MD Assistant Professor, CU School of Medicine

Cancer Network (NCCN) brain tumor and small-cell

his residency in radiation oncology at University of

help his patients live longer, improve symptoms, and

lung cancer guidelines, which set the standard-of-

Colorado Hospital.

to minimize the side effects of therapy. Sometimes

care for the oncology care in U.S.

“There were a number of fields that interested

the treatment options are limited, though, and

For example, in a recent study published in the

me in medical school, including internal medicine,

Rusthoven believes that may be when some of his

Journal of Clinical Oncology, a group of CU-lead

infectious disease, and emergency medicine.

patients need their physicians the most.

radiation oncologists and surgeons, with Rusthoven as senior author, analyzed post-treatment

Ultimately, I decided on oncology, which ended

“As oncologists, there is always something

up being a wonderful choice for me,” Rusthoven

we can do. For some, it is treating with the hope

outcomes for over 80,000 patients with stage I lung

says. “It’s a multidisciplinary field, that’s constantly

of cure or improving quality of life. But in some

cancer. Importantly, the authors found differences

evolving and advancing. But above all, oncology

cases, people just need to speak to someone

in post-treatment outcomes between surgery and

allows you to support people going through a major

understanding who cares about what they are

radiation that appeared to increase with age, which

challenge in their lives, which is such a privilege and

going through,” he says.

could influence decision-making among older

a uniquely human experience.” After completing his radiation oncology

Rusthoven’s bedside manner was recently recognized with an induction to the Gold Humanism

patients who are eligible for either treatment. “The culture of research at CU is to go wherever

residency in 2015, Rusthoven was offered

Honor Society, a distinction voted on by current

the data leads you, and we’ve been fortunate

a position to stay on as a faculty member at

UCH residents and fellows in recognition of faculty

enough to follow those leads to some exciting

the University of Colorado Hospital, with a

members who embody humanism in medicine.

research questions over the years. Here, I also

specialization in the treatment of lung and

In addition to his interest in patient-centered

brain tumors. “Working in the lung and CNS oncology

have the advantage of working with some of the

oncology, Rusthoven is also an active researcher

brightest and most open-minded oncologists

and author. He has had notable success early

around,” he says. With old-school bedside manner and an

programs at UCH has really been a dream job for

in his career, with original research and opinion

me,” he says. “It is an incredible environment to

contributions to leading medical journals including

openness to ongoing scientific advancement,

work in, with a culture of compassionate, patient-

the Journal of Clinical Oncology and the New

Chad Rusthoven hopes to be one of CU’s radiation

centered care and colleagues who are some of the

England Journal of Medicine. Rusthoven also serves

oncology leaders for the next generation in the

world’s leading experts in oncology.”

as a panel member for the National Comprehensive

rapidly advancing field of cancer care.

11 C3: SPRING 2018

C3: Collaborating to Conquer Cancer Spring 2018 Edition  

The biannual magazine of the University of Colorado Cancer Center

C3: Collaborating to Conquer Cancer Spring 2018 Edition  

The biannual magazine of the University of Colorado Cancer Center