About Dr. Fontaine
As a specialized thoracic surgeon, Dr. Jacques Fontaine primarily treats patients diagnosed with esophageal and pleural mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is found in the lining of the lungs and accounts for the majority of diagnosed mesothelioma cases. Dr. Fontaine is currently working with a highly specialized team of oncologists at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.
Dr. Fontaine is best known for his expertise in robotic surgery, not only in Florida but across the world.
In an interview, Dr. Fontaine explains that it is not a robot performing these surgeries, but himself as a surgeon who is precisely controlling small instruments with the help of a robot.
Dr. Fontaine elaborated by saying:
“I do the surgery by making small incisions and inserting a 3D high definition camera along with little instruments, which I control using a machine called a robot.”
Dr. Fontaine has been practicing medicine for over a decade. Within his career, he has gained ample experience performing minimally invasive extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) surgeries—the 2 standard surgical treatments for pleural mesothelioma.
Due to his expertise in surgically treating mesothelioma, Dr. Fontaine works very closely with other specialized oncologists to ensure patients receive the best care possible.
Dr. Fontaine’s Location
Mesothelioma patients who are interested in working with Dr. Fontaine can reach him at:
Department of Thoracic and GI Oncology
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center
12902 USF Magnolia Drive
Tampa, FL 33612
Dr. Fontaine’s Career Highlights
Dr. Fontaine’s has accomplished much in a considerably short medical career of just over a decade:
- Specialization in thoracic surgery, sought-after professor and actively engaged researcher
- Expert in robotic surgery for the treatment of pleural mesothelioma cancer
- Integral to the high success rate of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida
- Involved in an active Phase 2 Clinical Trial testing emerging treatments for patients with unresectable pleural mesothelioma
Dr. Fontaine’s Background
Born in Montreal, Quebec with experience practicing medicine in both rural and urban settings across Canada and the United States, Dr. Fontaine brings a unique perspective to treating mesothelioma.
Matched with his specialization in thoracic surgery, Dr. Fontaine’s multicultural background and unique work experience have enabled him to develop and perfect innovative surgical techniques.
As a child, Dr. Fontaine lived in various countries across the globe, allowing him to be fluent in English, Spanish, Arabic and French. Moving around and being subjected to new and sometimes stressful environments as a child could have been a factor in his success and innovation in the medical field.
His upbringing may have also given Dr. Fontaine the confidence to move around during his medical training, allowing him to gain a unique perspective and diverse experience.
Medical School and Practice
Dr. Fontaine’s medical journey started when he was accepted into medical school at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. After graduation, he moved to the United States to attend Boston University for training in general surgery. Dr. Fontaine returned to Canada to practice as a general surgeon in a small town in Newfoundland with limited resources.
Dr. Fontaine described his experience in Newfoundland as critical to his professional development, saying:
“I was the only surgeon in a 300-mile radius. There was no backup to consult if you had a problem. I grew up quickly there as a doctor.”
He returned to the United States to complete his specialization in thoracic surgery at Harvard University, where he graduated as the top thoracic resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
It was during this time that Dr. Fontaine worked alongside the late Dr. David Sugarbaker, a highly respected mesothelioma specialist, and developed an interest in mesothelioma.
After his extensive schooling, Dr. Fontaine was recruited by Brown Medical School to join their Department of Thoracic Surgery. He was responsible for developing a new thoracic surgery program for one of Brown’s teaching hospitals. Success in this area of his work led him to a position as an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of South Florida a few years after.
Dr. Fontaine is working at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida as the Director of their Mesothelioma Treatment and Research Center.
With Dr. Fontaine’s specialization in thoracic surgery, he has experience treating a wide range of cancers found in the chest cavity. These cancers include mesothelioma, along with lung and esophageal cancers. Dr. Fontained is best known for his expertise in minimally invasive surgeries for the treatment of pleural mesothelioma.
These minimally invasive surgeries involve the use of robots to perform extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) surgeries. These surgeries attempt to control mesothelioma tumor growth by partially or fully removing the infected lung.
Dr. Fontaine explains the details and benefits of robotic surgery:
“The surgery involves me as a human surgeon controlling instruments using a very precise tool called a robot. Compared to traditional surgical techniques, cuts are smaller, there is less pain, faster recovery and less chances of a complication.”
Dr. Fontaine’s Career Accomplishments
Dr. Fontaine has emerged as a respected young thoracic surgeon in a short period of time. His most significant career accomplishment to date has been his expertise and high success rate in treating pleural mesothelioma patients using robotic surgery.
Dr. Fontaine’s unique surgical expertise may have developed from numerous factors. He is fluent in multiple languages and has lived in countries around the world. This background has allowed him to interact and learn from a broader range of medical professionals and patients.
Dr. Fontaine’s innovative surgical expertise may have also come from his work as a teacher throughout his career.
He was responsible for developing a thoracic surgery program for a teaching hospital. Dr. Fontaine is currently an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of South Florida.
Research over the decades has shown that when we teach, we learn, resulting in a more in-depth understanding of the topic or problem. Expertise allows a person to see a subject from a different perspective which typically leads to innovation.
Throughout his career, Dr. Fontaine has been given the opportunity to analyze each possible complication, improvement and gap within the field of thoracic surgery. To add to this expertise, he is also actively engaged in clinical research to develop and perfect new treatment options for mesothelioma patients.
Awards & Honors
- American College of Surgeons (ACS) Fellow
- Royal College of Surgeons of Canada (FRCA) Fellow
- American College of Chest Physicians (FACCP) Fellow
Dr. Fontaine’s Current Work
Dr. Fontaine is currently working at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. He joined the Moffitt cancer team in 2011, where he works with pulmonologists, oncologists and researchers who are engaged in developing innovative treatment approaches.
At Moffitt Cancer Center he is focused on treating mesothelioma along with esophageal and lung cancer. Two years after arriving at Moffitt, Dr. Fontaine became the Director of the Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center. As Director, Dr. Fontaine can further develop his expertise in robotic surgery with the support from other mesothelioma specialists.
Dr. Fontaine also leads the Robotic Surgery fellowship program at Moffitt, which is a 12-month specialization offered to recent thoracic surgery graduates.
“We are lucky enough to be in a league of our own at Moffitt Cancer Center. Our surgeons are ultra-specialized for doing cancer surgery on one specific body part. I do the same surgery over and over again for cancer on one specific body part and we all work together that way.” -Dr. Jacques Fontaine
Statistics show that patients’ survival rates are much higher than the national average when treated at Moffitt Cancer Center. Part of this high success rate could be coming from the numerous cutting-edge clinical trials that Dr. Fontaine and his mesothelioma research team are leading.
Notable Work by Dr. Fontaine
Dr. Fontaine has contributed to over 30 scientific publications. These studies have analyzed emerging treatment methods and their effects on various cancers arising in the chest cavity.
The most notable publications by Dr. Fontaine have been his research on robotic surgical outcomes. For example, the effectiveness of the technique in removing cancerous tissue and a patient’s lung capacity following treatment. Since 2013, he has studied robotic surgery across different cancer stages and surgical procedures for treating mesothelioma, lung and esophageal cancer.
Results from these studies have confirmed that robotic surgery is a safe and feasible treatment for patients. Additionally, his research has shown that this technique may be the most effective at removing large tumors with minimal damage and discomfort.
Dr. Fontaine’s MultimodalTreatment Philosophy
Dr. Fontaine firmly believes in the use of multimodal treatments to combat mesothelioma—the combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. As a thoracic surgeon with specialized skills in advanced surgical techniques, he is eager to collaborate with chemotherapy and radiation specialists to ensure patients receive the best possible care.
Within his current position at Moffitt Cancer Center, he uses his surgery specialization to complement the work of other oncologists.
“Collaboration is the key to treatment of lung cancer, esophageal cancer or mesothelioma. Sometimes surgery is not enough. The combination of chemotherapy, radiation or surgery is the key for the best chance of a cure. You need all three under one roof. And that’s what we do here at Moffitt Cancer Center.” -Dr. Jacques Fontaine
If you’ve been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and you’re looking for a second opinion from Dr. Fontaine or another mesothelioma specialist, contact our Patient Advocates today.