Specialist Spotlight: Thoracic Surgery
David Cziperle, M.D. spends the majority of his days making sure patients with or suspected of having lung cancer receive quick, coordinated care.
Son of a steel mill worker, Dr. Cziperle was the first in his family to go to college. After graduating from University of Notre Dame, he went on to receive a Master of Science degree from University of Illinois and a Medical degree from Loyola University of Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
“I always wanted to be a doctor,” said Dr. Cziperle. “Early on I had an interest in Cardiology, however during my internship and residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, I realized that I wanted to be a cardiothoracic surgeon so that I could make a quicker impact on patients’ problems.”
As time went on Dr. Cziperle began seeing more and more patients with spots or tumors in their lungs. He recognized how disjointed the care was in the community with patients waiting weeks or even months to see a variety of specialists before beginning treatment.
“Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States just beating breast cancer in frequency,” said Dr. Cziperle. “However lung cancer is responsible for more cancer deaths than breast, colorectal, prostate, and bladder cancer combined. That is why a quick coordinated diagnosis and treatment plan are so important.”
So in 2013, Dr. Cziperle rallied his colleagues to begin holding a multi-disciplinary lung cancer conference every Tuesday at Silver Cross Hospital. At the conference, a team of experts including pulmonology, interventional radiology, pathology, thoracic surgery and University of Chicago medical and radiation oncologists gather together to review patients’ medical information and provide a recommended treatment plan – all in the same day.
Over the past 3 years, the group has helped nearly 500 patients. Patients can call 1-815-300-LUNG (5864) to have their case reviewed at no charge. All the physicians donate their time.
“Cancer is a life changing event for patients and their families,” Dr. Cziperle says. “As physicians, our goal is to make our patients’ lives easier when faced with questions of what to do. By having all the specialists together reviewing all aspects of the case at one time, patients can get the answers they need and start treatment right away.”
For Dr. Cziperle, that may mean removing a tumor or mass in the lung. Having performed over 10,000 cardiothoracic surgeries in his 20-year career, Dr. Cziperle is considered by his colleagues as an expert in the field of thoracic oncology. He takes call at 19 hospitals in 4 states to consult on complex cases and believes his obligation is to educate not only patients and their family about their problem and treatment options, but also nurses, paramedics and other specialists so they too can help others fight this devastating disease.
Dr. Cziperle also leads Silver Cross Hospital’s Cancer Committee ensuring that patients have access to the full scope of services required to diagnose, treat, rehabilitate and support patients with cancer and their families. The hospital’s cancer program has received accreditation for the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.
In addition to advocating for patients, Dr. Cziperle and his wife, Charlotte (who is a nurse and artist), enjoy traveling and gardening.
“She likes to cook, and I like to eat,” he said.
They have 2 adult sons and three dogs which Dr. Cziperle calls his B.F.F.s – best furry friends.