About Dr. Alexander
Dr. Richard Alexander currently serves as the chief surgical officer and the chief of surgical oncology at Rutgers Cancer Institute in New Jersey.
He decided to pursue the peritoneal mesothelioma specialty after discovering how pessimistic other doctors were about the disease. Believing that a cure for mesothelioma will eventually be found, he is determined to help patients to live longer and have a better quality of life.
Did You Know?
Over the course of his career, Dr. Alexander discovered the link between specific proteins and mesothelioma. This discovery is paving the way for new kinds of treatments that will help stop mesothelioma tumors from growing.
He is also dedicated to improving the effectiveness of the current standard surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma — a combination of cytoreduction surgery and heated chemotherapy drugs applied directly to the abdominal cavity.
Dr. Alexander has also published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles, written 50 book chapters featured in a variety of publications, and presented lectures on the topic of peritoneal mesothelioma in 17 countries worldwide. He currently serves on the editorial board of the renowned medical journal, “Surgery.”
Dr. Alexander earned his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine before going on to serve as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy for 8 years.
During his time of service, he worked at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda while he finished his general surgery residency.
He later worked as a medical officer aboard the USS Mount Whitney and the USS Midway — two ships that relied on parts that contain asbestos, the only known cause of mesothelioma.
Upon completing his military service, he began working at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he completed his fellowship in surgical oncology. He returned to military service for another 4 years, serving as commander at the Walter Reed Medical Center.
Once his second stint in the military was completed, he worked for the Surgery Branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
During his 16 years at the NCI, he served as:
- Chair of the gastrointestinal malignancies section
- Chief of the surgical metabolism area
- Deputy director of the Center for Cancer Research
While working at the NCI, he was also a professor and associate chair of clinical research for the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery.
He instructed teams researching proteins linked to mesothelioma. His teams created internationally recognized research programs for cancer patients.
In 2017, he began working as the chief surgical officer of the Rutgers Cancer Institute in New Jersey.
Since his early days in general surgery, Dr. Alexander has been passionate about raising funds for cancer research. He has spoken at many international events to raise awareness about incurable diseases that he believes must be prioritized.
For every 100 cancer research proposals that are submitted to the government for funding, only 8 are successful. In response to these outcomes, Dr. Alexander continues to campaign for better government subsidies and funding.
“We don’t have a lack of ideas — we have the best minds in science working in cancer research. The real problem is the lack of funds. It is the fuel to drive the discovery engine forward that we are now missing. We are facing a crisis in cancer research.”
He believes that cancer research in the United States must be considered a higher priority and he actively seeks to find resources that will benefit patients all over the world.
Awards & Honors
Dr. Alexander’s awards and honors include:
- American College of Surgeons (Fellow)
- American Surgical Association (Fellow)
- Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Chair of the Board)
- National Institutes of Health Individual Merit Award 2005
- Research Committee for the Society of Surgical Oncologists (Chair)
- Royal College of Surgeons, Glasgow (Honorary Member)
- Society of Surgical Oncology (Fellow)
Dr. Alexander’s area of expertise is peritoneal mesothelioma — asbestos-caused cancer affecting the peritoneum (the abdominal lining).
As part of his treatment routine, Dr. Alexander focuses on a combination of cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). Though a fairly common combination, it’s still considered a risky procedure. Many specialists believe the survival rate is too low to justify administering it.
Dr. Alexander continually researches and refines his treatment methods to make them safer and more effective for patients.
Cytoreductive Surgery With HIPEC
In peritoneal mesothelioma, the tumors grow inside the lining of the abdomen. Unlike other types of cancer, the tumors do not form one large mass. Instead, there is a presence of many small tumors throughout the lining, some of which are too small to see.
Because of how peritoneal mesothelioma tumors grow, cytoreductive surgery cannot remove all of the cancer from the abdomen. During surgery, which can take up to 12 hours, Dr. Alexander removes all visible tumors and then attempts to kill the remaining cells with HIPEC.
Through HIPEC, the abdominal cavity is filled with a heated solution of chemotherapy. The drugs attack and kill the quickly dividing cancer cells for about 90 minutes until the solution is drained from the abdomen.
Because the chemotherapy drugs are applied directly to the cancer cells, HIPEC has fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy treatments.
Targeted Therapy Research
Dr. Alexander has conducted extensive work with targeted therapies — drugs that eliminate the proteins cancer needs to grow.
During preclinical trials, it was discovered that peritoneal mesothelioma cells stopped multiplying when certain proteins were killed by the drugs.
Getting Specialized Mesothelioma Treatment
Receiving a peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis can be emotionally overwhelming. Finding a reputable doctor that you trust is critical during this already stressful time.
If you select Dr. Alexander as your mesothelioma specialist, you can find comfort in knowing that he is one of the country’s leading experts in peritoneal mesothelioma. He is both an excellent surgeon and a passionate researcher.
If you have peritoneal mesothelioma, contact our team today for additional information about visiting a specialist and qualifying for compensation to cover treatment costs.