Alexander Julian Swistel, M.D.
Dr. Alexander Swistel is Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery and a nationally-recognized breast surgeon who pioneered many of the newest advances in breast cancer treatment. He was among the first physicians in New York to perform a sentinel lymph node biopsy, in which tracer compounds pinpoint the precise lymph node, eliminating the need to surgically remove 20-30 lymph nodes. This procedure is now part of the standard treatment for breast cancer patients.
Dr. Swistel is also one of the pioneers of oncoplastic surgery, in which a lumpectomy is combined with reduction cosmetic surgery for large-breasted women. He is establishing a specialized center of oncoplastic surgery, which utilizes state-of-the-art techniques for tumor removal along with reconstructive options provided by a specialized team of surgeons.
He also developed a procedure called skin-sparing mastectomy, where a small incision is made around the nipple instead of across the entire breast.When combined with immediate reconstruction, this procedure provides significantly improved cosmetic results, with no decrease in survival.
Dr. Swistel's nationally-recognized expertise and outstanding reputation in the field is reflected in his being named by Castle Connolly as one of America's Top Doctors 2007-2011 and by US News & World in 2011 as one of America's Top Doctors. He was also cited by Castle Connolly as a Top Cancer Doctor, and included in New York Magazine's Best Doctorsin the Tri-state area. In 2011, Dr. Swistel was also named to Who's Who in America.
Alexander J. Swistel, M.D., a nationally-renowned breast surgeon, has pioneered many of the newest advances in minimally-invasive breast cancer treatment.
Dr. Swistel graduated from Harvard University and received his medical degree from Brown University School of Medicine in 1975. He completed his surgical residency at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center and a two-year surgical oncology fellowship at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. At the completion of his fellowship, Dr. Swistel returned to St. Luke's as an Attending Surgeon and subsequently became the Chief of Breast Surgery.
In 1996, he was recruited by New York-Presbyterian Hospital to strengthen the breast service and joined the attending staff in surgery. Dr. Swistel's visionary leadership was instrumental in developing and launching the Weill Cornell Breast Center and he became the Director of the Program and served for Chief of Breast Surgery for over 14 years. He is Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, Associate Attending at New York-Presbyterian Hospital's Department of Surgery.
Dr. Swistel has pioneered many significant improvements in the delivery of breast cancer care that have greatly benefited patients and offered new, less invasive treatment options for women with breast cancer. He developed an early protocol using laser-guided destruction of small breast tumors as a way to minimize surgical treatment of breast cancers. He was the first surgeon in New York to perform a skin-sparing mastectomy in 1991. That technique revolutionized standard radical mastectomies. When combined with immediate reconstruction, it allowed for a significantly improved cosmetic outcome, with no decrease in survival. In fact, the quality of survival was enhanced.
He continues to pioneer techniques in surgery that provide effective removal of tumors with reconstuctive techniques that leave the patients without visible scars and excellent tumor therapy. This vision has culminated in the establishment of a specialized center of oncoplastic surgery, where teams of surgeons combine the latest techniques for tumor removal along with reconstructive options. This leaves patients with no visible reminder of the breast cancer, better cosmetic results, and reduced risk. Many studies show a huge psychological benefit to woman who undergo oncoplasty.
In 1986, he established the first Comprehensive Breast Center in Manhattan at St. Luke's Hospital. That center served as a model for subsequent breast centers throughout the city. Recognizing that minority populations often have difficulty accessing good breast care he received a special grant from New York State to focus on screening of minority patients. This program was adopted by the New York State legislature and continues benefiting women today.
Dr. Swistel was one of the first physicians in New York to pioneer sentinel lymph node biopsy, a new technique for minimizing auxilliary surgery. He currently runs a high-risk surveillance program at the Weill Cornell Breast Center for patients who are at elevated risk for developing breast cancer.
Dr. Swistel is past President of the Metropolitan Breast Cancer Group, which is the oldest and largest regional group of breast cancer specialists in the nation. He is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine. Dr. Swistel is a member of many professional societies, including the American College of Surgeons, Brown Medical Alumni Association, New York County Medical Society, Association for Academic Surgery, Society of Head and Neck Surgeons, American Society of Clinical Oncology, New York Metropolitan Mammography Society, American Society of Breast Diseases and the American Society of Breast Surgeons.