Dr. Cynthia Harris is a gastroenterologist in the Division of Endoscopic Oncology in the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. Dr. Harris is an assistant professor at the University of South Florida College of Medicine’s Department of Oncologic Sciences.
Dr. Harris received her medical degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and completed an internal medicine residency at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, FL. She pursued additional training through a gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Kentucky and an advanced endoscopic fellowship at USF/Moffitt.
How long have you lived in the Tampa Bay area?
I have lived here since 2006 (but I moved away for one year in 2008 to Indianapolis, Ind.
What is your favorite Tampa Bay restaurant?
There are so many great restaurants in Tampa Bay that offer a tremendous variety including the Columbia, Bern’s, Malio’s and Grille One Sixteen. But I really enjoy Seasons 52, which offers fresh, seasonally inspired, and healthy choices.
Where is your favorite place in Tampa Bay to relax?
Any of our beautiful beaches.
What is your favorite event to attend in Tampa Bay?
The Mainsail Art Festival held in April at Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg.
If you had never become a physician, what would’ve been your plan B or second career choice?
My second career choice would have likely involved business or finance.
How important is it today for physicians to be involved with the community, and how important is it to you personally?
I think it is very important for physicians to be involved with the community as we have the opportunity to act as positive role models to children, teens and young adults, sharing the benefits of education. Physicians also have inherent and learned leadership skills that can be used to exert positive change in the community.
How Long have you been with Moffitt Cancer Center?
I have been at Moffitt Cancer Center for 4 ½ years. I joined Moffitt in 2009, completing an advanced endoscopy fellowship (one year of extra training), and became a faculty member in 2010.
What has been the most rewarding accolade from working at Moffitt Cancer Center?
The most rewarding part of my job is being able to offer excellent patient care at a world-class center by working with phenomenally talented colleagues, striving to reach our mission of contributing to the prevention and cure of cancer.
What is The Cellvizio System, a new technology you are using for cancer detection?
The Cellvizio System is a technology, also known as confocal laser endomicroscopy, that allows a physician to look at tissue on a cellular level much like a pathologist would. However, we are able to see the tissue in real time so that we may detect and treat cancer in its earliest stage, and at the time of the procedure, instead of waiting on a biopsy result.
How is Cellvizio reducing health care costs?
Cellvizio has the potential to reduce overall health care costs as it relates to cancer care by finding cancer earlier. If cancer is found in its earliest stage, this potentially could result in less extensive and invasive treatment. In addition, it helps me make immediate treatment decisions at the first procedure instead of having to repeat a procedure in the future for treatment.
Tell us briefly what this new technology Cellvizio means to you and how it is benefiting your department and patients.
Cellvizio is another valuable tool used in our fight against cancer. It helps supplement our other techniques and has changed how we manage patients in several instances. One of its roles is in pancreatic cyst work. Some of these pancreatic cysts are benign, some are precancerous, and others are cancerous. Most recently, I evaluated a woman with a cyst in the pancreas. Cellvizio confirmed a precancerous cyst when the other usual diagnostic methods were not clear. I was able to offer her surgery for a high-risk condition that, if not addressed, might have led to pancreatic cancer.
In your opinion has recent technology improved the fight against cancer and why?
I think that recent technology, drug development and patient education have all improved our fight against cancer. Early detection of many types of cancer has led to improved survival and decreased mortality. For instance, we have seen a decline in the incidence of colorectal cancer and colorectal cancer death due to improved screening such as with colonoscopy. Also, we have improved cancer awareness and the need for screening and prevention through various educational programs, celebrity endorsements, and the work of many not-for-profit groups who have made it their sole mission to prevent various cancers.