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Profile UNC: Dr. Karyn Stitzenberg

For some, cancer is not the worst challenge.


Karyn B. Stitzenberg, MD, MPH Professor, Surgical Oncology

University of North Carolina School of Medicine

“When I arrived at Fox Chase Cancer Center for my surgical oncology fellowship, I was already an experienced surgeon,” explains Karyn B. Stitzenberg, MD, surgical oncologist at the University of Noth Carolina (UNC). “However, my Fox Chase training brought me to a new level of surgical skill and understanding, providing broad exposure not only in general surgical oncology but also to head and neck cancer, GYN oncology, and thoracic procedures.”

“Meeting so many renowned Fox Chase scientists and clinicians allowed me to fast-track my research interests and explore issues I’m still involved with today, such as the downstream consequences for cancer patients when cancer care is centralized at high volume centers.”

“Because UNC is a major regional cancer center and a safety net hospital, I care for patients from various circumstances.  Unfortunately, many patients present with late-stage tumors that might have had a better prognosis if caught earlier. These patients usually have many challenges in life, and I often have to teach my residents that ‘Although cancer is horrible,  cancer may not be the worst challenge these patients are facing in life.’”

“I returned to practice at UNC because I enjoy taking care of the patients at UNC, and I have the opportunity to pursue my research. Since I did medical school and residency here, I knew I was joining a fantastic group of partners, including Fox Chase-trained surgical oncologist Michael Meyers, MD. My practice here focuses on lower gastrointestinal and complex skin cancers, but I also see many other random things.  If it is something no one else has seen or it doesn’t clearly fall into anyone else’s realm, I’m usually the one to see it.  I enjoy helping patients in these challenging situations.”