Profile: Top Chicago Surgical Oncologist Takes Many Of The Toughest Cases

Field of Medicine: General Surgery

By Nick Rees

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Dr. Malcolm Bilimoria, a top rated General Surgeon in Chicago, is director of the Illinois Center for Pancreatic and Hepatobiliary Diseases at Northwest Community Hospital. In 2010, Dr Bilimoria was selected as a Chicago Top Doctor by TopTierMD. He is nationally recognized for his surgical oncology work and, in particular, for his experience performing the Whipple Procedure.

Bilimoria first became interested in medicine because of his love of helping people. “I found that with the practice of medicine you had a chance to help people each and every day you go to work,” Dr. Bilimoria said. “These are the things that get me charged up. Trying to help people. Trying to cure diseases, in particular, and making people who otherwise have their backs up against the wall feel like we have actually accomplished something and have cured them in the process.”

Dr. Bilimoria received his medical degree from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and completed his surgical residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He also completed a two-year research fellowship at the Robert Lurie Cancer Center. After completing his residency, he went on to a two year fellowship in surgical oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.

Dr. Bilimoria chose to work with cancer patients as he found them to be the most courageous people in the hospital.

“If you ever want to see raw courage or raw bravado, come to a clinic where patients are coming for cancer treatment," Dr. Bilimoria said. "You will see fear in the eyes of the patients, but you will also see the ultimate fighters. They will do anything to get better, and those are the types of the patients that I would like to help in any way I can.”

When it was time to choose a specialty, Dr. Bilimoria was drawn to pancreas and liver surgery, because it was a very challenging area within surgical oncology. “Many surgeons shy away from these areas because of the difficulty with the operation,"  Dr. Bilimoria said. "I was drawn to the area because I knew that the surgery was technically difficult. Each surgery, even though one is dealing with the same tumors, can be vastly different. Certain tumors can grow into surrounding structures, leading to a more complex procedure.”

Dr. Bilimoria’s favorite thing about being a doctor is curing cancer. Even though he can't cure every patient, he knows he must deal with each case as if the best is possible.   “You have to realize that with many of the cancers that I treat, patients know that they have been dealt a bad hand and they know the disease process is aggressive,” Dr. Bilimoria said. “In many cases, doctors have turned these patients away because they feel that there is so little chance of helping them and that it's not worth trying. These are the cases that I really love to deal with and these are the people for whom we can sometimes hit a homerun.”

When asked about his favorite moments as a doctor, Dr. Bilimoria was quick to recall some of his most satisfying.  “Unquestionably, my highlights are seeing the patients on whom I operated five years earlier with pancreatic cancer at the time and being able to shake their hand five years after the operation, knowing that without surgery they certainly would not have been cured,” Dr. Bilimoria said. “Other gratifying moments clearly include difficult, but successful, operations on patients which other surgeons took a pass on. He, in turn, has tackled some of these cases and surgery has led to durable survival and cure for the patients.”

Dr. Malcolm Bilimoria, MD, was selected by TopTierMD as a Chicago Top Doctor and is considered Best in Pancreatic Surgery and the Whipple Procedure in Chicago. He specializes in Hepatobiliary Disease, Gastrointestinal Surgery and the Whipple Procedure.

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