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Feb. 17, 2016 - Meet the Physician: Thomas W. Butler M.D.

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WHO HE IS: Senior staff medical oncologist, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Oncology

Meet the physician: Thomas W. Butler, M.D.

WHO HE IS: Senior staff medical oncologist, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Oncology

AREAS OF INTEREST: Supportive oncology and cancer-directed palliative care; cancer-related fatigue and distress; chronic leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and melanoma.

WORK HISTORY: A native of Paris, Tenn., Dr. Butler felt led to become a doctor while working his way through college as a nursing assistant.  After completing medical school, a residency and a fellowship in hematology and oncology, Dr. Butler became an assistant professor of medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the Southwest Cancer Center in Lubbock, Texas.

 He later was recruited as assistant professor at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center at East Carolina University School of Medicine in Greenville, N.C., prior to taking a position as medical director of the Gateway Cancer Center in Clarksville, Tenn., where he directed cancer research in association with the Vanderbilt Cancer Affiliates Network.  He relocated to USA Mitchell Cancer Institute on Feb. 1, 2007.

WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT TREATING PATIENTS: “Cancer physicians are offered a unique honor by being able to share in a special relationship with patients who are faced with a very challenging, and at times, frightening disease like cancer,” he said. “Although our ultimate goal at the Mitchell Cancer Institute is to find a cure for cancer, my passion is to learn and enact new ways to improve the quality of life and reduce distress in our patients as they face the day to day challenges from diagnosis to treatment and hopefully cure.”

Dr. Butler said that MCI was a perfect fit for his career in 2007. When he arrived, he discovered an emphasis on interdisciplinary management in cancer care, which he considers the best approach for patients.  Cancer care is no longer a “one physician-one oncologist” disease, but a team approach to a very complex disease, he said.

“Not only is the care at the MCI interdisciplinary at the clinical level, but clinicians like myself also have the privilege to work with nationally and internationally known basic scientists whose laboratory research allows us to further understand the biology of cancer and with whom we can correlate clinical and laboratory observations to improve opportunities to treat the cancer and its symptoms and hopefully discover a cure,” he said.

“God has blessed me with the privilege to meet the most wonderful patients here in Mobile and the opportunity to contribute to their comfort as they deal with their struggles with cancer.  Thus, it is understandable why I see my work as a mission rather than a job.”

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EDUCATION: Dr. Butler earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Tennessee at Martin, and a medical degree from the University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences in Memphis. He completed his residency in medicine at Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga and was a fellow in hematology and oncology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

CERTIFICATIONS: Dr. Butler is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.  He is a member of the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer, serving on working groups such as Cancer-Related Fatigue, Cancer-Related Thrombosis, and Palliative Care.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES:  He enjoys playing rhythm and bass guitar, bicycling, traveling with Mary, his wife of 37 years, spending time with his grandson, Thomas James Butler, and his two dachshunds, Bup and Bruce. He is also an avid University of Tennessee sports fan.

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