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Michael J. Cavnar, MD

Michael J. Cavnar, MD
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  • General Surgery
  • Surgical Oncology
This provider offers TeleCare
  • Conditions treated

    Primary liver cancers (cholangiocarcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma),  Benign liver lesions (adenoma, focal nodular hyperplasia, cysts, hemangioma),  Liver metastases, including colon cancer, neuroendocrine tumors and others,  Cholangiocarcinoma arising in the hilum (Klatskin tumor), bile duct or pancreas,  Pancreas cysts (intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm [IPMN], mucinous cystic neoplasm [MCN], serous cystadenoma),  Pancreatic adenocarcinoma,  Gallbladder mass, adenocarcinoma,  Neuroendocrine tumors arising in the stomach, duodenum, pancreas or small intestine, with or without metastases,  Stomach adenocarcinoma,  Small intestine adenocarcinoma,  Gastrointestinal stromal tumor arising in the stomach and small intestine with or without metastases,  Intra-abdominal sarcoma such as liposarcoma,  Complex or re-operative stomach, duodenal or biliary surgery,  Spleen lesions/malignancy, splenomegaly, hematologic diseases requiring splenectomy
  • About

    Cavnar earned his medical degree from the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. Afterward, he completed five years of a general surgery residency at New York University School of Medicine. He then completed a two-year fellowship in complex general surgical oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City, the same institution where he spent the previous three years completing laboratory research under the guidance of Dr. Ronald DeMatteo through the Surgical Oncology Research Training Program. After the conclusion of 14 years of rigorous medical and surgical training in New York City, Cavnar was recruited to UK to join the Section of Surgical Oncology at the Markey Cancer Center in 2017.

    Cavnar’s clinical interests include treating cancers of the liver, biliary tract, pancreas, stomach and small intestine, as well as abdominal sarcomas such as gastrointestinal stromal tumor. His current research focuses on clinical application of hepatic artery infusion (HAI) pump therapy for cancers of the liver, translational research on progression factors in gastrointestinal stromal tumor, and evaluation of biomarkers for detection of recurrence in pancreatic cancer. In 2020, Dr. Cavnar initiated a program of HAI chemotherapy at the University of Kentucky as a part of a clinical trial, becoming the only HAI program in the state. This treatment is used for colorectal cancer metastases to the liver, as well as intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. He is actively involved in the HAI Consortium Research Network (HCRN), a collaboration of over 40 worldwide institutions studying HAI. Cavnar is member of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, and is the site principal investigator for multiple cooperative group trials at the University of Kentucky.

    Overall, with the expertise he gained through his training, Cavnar hopes to provide care and treatment to patients at UK HealthCare with a broad array of complex oncologic problems.

    Personal Statement

    I believe the best outcomes for patients with complex oncologic problems are accomplished through careful, detailed, multidisciplinary planning. In other words, measure twice, cut once. Cancer surgery is much more than just cutting and sewing. It involves careful coordination of many factors, including chemotherapy, radiation, nutrition, physical and occupational therapy, optimization of physical and mental health, family support, and much more. Through good teamwork and communication, I believe this can be achieved.

    Faculty Rank

    Assistant Professor of Surgery


    Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York


    General Surgery, New York University Medical Center, New York, N.Y.


    Surgery - Complex General Surgical Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y.

    Certifications and Special Training

    American Board of Surgery

    American Board of Surgery, General Surgery

    American Board of Surgery, Complex General Surgical Oncology

  • Procedures performed

    • Whenever possible surgery is performed with minimally invasive techniques, including laparoscopic, robotic and hybrid approaches.
    • Stomach: total, subtotal or partial gastrectomy with Bilroth I or II, or Roux-en-Y reconstruction with lymph node dissection
    • Pancreas: Whipple procedure, central pancreatectomy, distal pancreatectomy/splenectomy
    • Liver: hepatic artery infusion pump, partial hepatectomy or lobectomy, microwave ablation, cyst fenestration
    • Gallbladder: Cholecystectomy with or without liver resection and lymph node dissection
    • Bile duct: bile duct resection with or without liver resection, Roux-en-Y hepaticojejunostomy
    • Small bowel resection including duodenal resection, with or without lymph node dissection
    • Intra-abdominal/retroperitoneal sarcoma resection with multivisceral resection
  • Awards

    Clinical Teaching Award, UK College of Medicine 2017-18

    Student & Resident Teaching award, UK Department of Surgery, 2018-19

  • Locations

    Surgical Oncology

    Multidisciplinary Surgical Oncology Clinic

    Whitney Hendrickson Building
    UK Markey Cancer Center
    Whitney-Hendrickson Building
    800 Rose St.
    First Floor
    Lexington, KY 40536
    Fax 859-323-0702

    A parking lot is located near the Whitney-Hendrickson Building, accessible via Hospital Drive. Get directions to Whitney-Hendrickson.

    Gastrointestinal Cancer

    Multidisciplinary Clinic

    Whitney Hendrickson Building
    UK Markey Cancer Center
    Whitney-Hendrickson Building
    800 Rose St.
    First Floor
    Lexington, KY 40536

    A parking lot is located near the Whitney-Hendrickson Building, accessible via Hospital Drive. Get directions to Whitney-Hendrickson.

    Insurance Information

    Insurance policies can vary widely. Please check with your doctor/clinic for specific insurance information before your visit or procedure to avoid unexpected out-of-pocket costs. See list of insurers Arrow Pointing Right

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