Headshot of Dr. Ryan Holbrook

Dr. Ryan Holbrook

Dr. Ryan Holbrook is a cancer surgeon specializing in peritoneal mesothelioma. As the only specialist in the Pacific Northwest qualified to perform such surgeries, Dr. Holbrook pioneered the groundbreaking cytoreduction with HIPEC procedure that has proven to extend patients’ life expectancy.

About Dr. Holbrook

Dr. Holbrook focuses solely on abdominal cancers and is one of the top mesothelioma surgeons in the country.

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients from the Pacific Northwest and around the United States have sought Dr. Holbrook for surgical treatment, as surgery is the only curative option available.

Depending on the cancer stage and other factors, cytoreduction with heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) allows patients to live longer than was ever possible.

“We can have a long-term cure rate of anywhere from 75 to 90%, versus before it wasn’t very good at all.”

- Dr. Ryan Holbrook

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Dr. Holbrook’s Career Highlights

With more than 20 years of experience surgically treating cancer, Dr. Holbrook has made significant contributions to mesothelioma research and treatment.

Career highlights include:

  • Introducing radiofrequency ablation (RFA) treatment at Cancer Care Northwest to kill cancer cells using heat and energy
  • Helping develop a world-class cancer treatment center with an integrated care model
  • Pioneering the use of HIPEC for peritoneal mesothelioma treatment
  • Serving as the only peritoneal mesothelioma specialist in the Pacific Northwest

Dr. Holbrook’s Background

Dr. Holbrook holds a degree from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. After an internship at New England Medical Center, he completed general surgical residencies at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and Maine Medical Center in Portland.

He has since honed his surgical skills and gained valuable experience through several fellowships around the country.

These have included: 

  • Massachusetts General Hospital (designated by the National Cancer Institute as a comprehensive cancer center)
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute (America’s first cancer center)
  • Virginia Mason Medical Center (with its premier Cancer Institute in Seattle)

Dr. Holbrook has spent more than 20 years in Washington as a surgical oncologist specializing in abdominal cancers, including peritoneal mesothelioma.

For most of that time, he has partnered with Cancer Care Northwest, where he introduced several important procedures like cytoreduction with HIPEC and radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

In addition to his groundbreaking treatment for mesothelioma patients, Dr. Holbrook can treat nearly 30 other types of cancers and conditions using a wide range of procedures, allowing him to master skills that further inform his work in the mesothelioma field.

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Dr. Holbrook’s Medical Specializations

Dr. Holbrook is a board-certified surgical oncologist specializing in peritoneal mesothelioma cancer. As the only surgeon in the Pacific Northwest qualified to treat peritoneal mesothelioma, he has worked with countless patients within the region and beyond.

He pioneered cytoreduction with HIPEC surgery in the region. The average life expectancy of peritoneal mesothelioma is 1 year 0r less. But surgery with HIPEC treatment has proven to extend patients’ lives by another 4 or 5 years. Some patients have even achieved long-term survival, living 15 years or more following this treatment.

Cytoreduction with HIPEC is a two-part surgical treatment. First, the surgical team removes visible tumors in the abdominal lining. Then after the surgery is complete, the team bathes the abdominal cavity with a heated chemotherapy solution that kills the remaining cancer cells.

“The heat is important. The heat kills cancer cells, but it also helps in a sense [to] open the pores of the tissue so the chemo will penetrate a little bit further.”

- Dr. Ryan Holbrook

Cytoreduction with HIPEC is a complex procedure that requires highly skilled and experienced surgeons. Depending on the tumor locations, surgeons may have to move organs for better access and cut away cancerous parts. The entire operation takes 10 hours or longer.

Dr. Holbrook is also credited with introducing RFA in the Pacific Northwest. RFA is an effective treatment for malignant mesothelioma that uses radiofrequency heat in a targeted approach to kill cancer cells.

The procedure is sometimes used as part of a multimodal treatment or when the patient is not healthy enough to withstand rigorous surgery.

Dr. Holbrook’s Career Accomplishments

Dr. Holbrook has achieved remarkable accomplishments in his career as a cancer surgeon.

During his years of service at Cancer Care Northwest, Dr. Holbrook has helped develop an integrated cancer care center that treats each patient as a unique individual. Dr. Holbrook and the center’s staff ensure families are emotionally supported during these difficult times.

Awards and Honors

Dr. Holbrook’s awards and honors include:

  • American College of Surgeons Fellow
  • Best Doctors in America® List selection
  • Massachusetts General Hospital (Fellowship)
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Fellowship)
  • Society of Surgical Oncology (Member)
  • Virginia Mason Medical Center (Fellowship)

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Dr. Holbrook’s Healing Philosophy

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare illness, but Dr. Holbrook can closely examine each patient’s case and provide customized treatment. The stage of cancer, tumor location, and the patient’s overall health all have an impact on how Dr. Holbrook performs related surgeries.

“Each patient is treated as an individual and given the best possible surgical treatment for their cancer. I believe that supporting each person we treat physically, psychologically, and spiritually is an essential part of healing.”

- Dr. Ryan Holbrook

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Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Ryan Holbrook. Any contact information listed is for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. Ryan Holbrook directly.

Written by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 14 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

3 References
  1. Cancer Care Northwest. “Ryan F. Holbrook, MD, FACS.” Retrieved from https://www.cancercarenorthwest.com/find-a-doctor/ryan-f-holbrook. Accessed on December 13, 2022.

  2. Foster, J.M., Sleightholm, R., Patel, A., et al. Morbidity and Mortality Rates Following Cytoreductive Surgery Combined With Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy Compared With Other High-Risk Surgical Oncology Procedures. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(1):e186847. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.6847.

  3. KXLY.com. “LIfe-saving surgery performed in Spokane featured on Grey’s Anatomy.” Retrieved from https://www.kxly.com/news/life-saving-surgery-performed-in-spokane-featured-on-greys-anatomy/176347312. Accessed on December 13, 2022.

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