Sarcoma Specialist:

Michael J. Cavnar

Surgical Fellowship, 2015

Department of Surgery, Section of Surgical Oncology
University of Kentucky
800 Rose Street, UKMC – C224, Lexington KY 40536
(859) 257-4490

Dr. Michael Cavnar is a board-certified general surgeon and surgical oncologist. After completing his Surgical Oncology fellowship at MSKCC, Dr. Cavnar was recruited to the University of Kentucky (UK) in July 2017 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology. Dr. Cavnar’s research and clinical background comprises intensive training in basic science, outcomes research and conduct of clinical trials as well as the clinical management of abdominal cancers including sarcoma. During residency, he completed a 3-year basic science fellowship at MSKCC under the mentorship of Dr. Ronald DeMatteo, studying tumor immunology and targeted therapies in gastrointestinal stromal (GIST), which is the most common type of sarcoma. This fellowship provided intensive experience in flow cytometry and other bench techniques. During surgical oncology fellowship, he extended his work in GIST to include clinical outcomes research, leading to multiple publications. Dr. Cavnar has continued outcomes and clinical translation research in GIST at UK, and holds two institutional grants for his project investigating molecular progression factors in GIST and the role of circulating tumor DNA in this disease.

Dr. Cavnar is also actively engaged in clinical trials. During fellowship, he was accepted into the 2016 AACR/ASCO Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop in Vail, CO where he developed a full clinical trial testing a novel tyrosine kinase inhibitor in locally advanced GIST. At UK, he is the site principal investigator (PI) for multiple cooperative group trials in pancreatic cancer. He is the PI of a Phase 1 investigator-initiated clinical trial (IIT) examining a novel device combination to administer hepatic artery infusion pump (HAIP) chemotherapy in unresectable colorectal liver metastases and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Since opening his HAIP program in mid-2020, Dr. Cavnar has already successfully enrolled 20 patients to this competitively funded IIT, making this one of the most active HAIP programs in the country. He is also the top recruiting physician for the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN) Total Cancer Care initiative, a multi-institution genomics protocol, having recruited over 300 UK patients to the study. He and another co-investigator have been awarded funding for an investigator initiated trial looking at serum monitoring of imatinib levels in GIST patients. Finally, as a clinician, Dr. Cavnar maintains a high-volume surgical oncology practice, and has resected over 60 GISTs since joining at UK.