Nestor F. Esnaola, MD, MPH, MBA, FACS

Nestor F. Esnaola, MD, MPH, MBA, FACS

Clinical Locations

Primary Location

Fox Chase Cancer Center
333 Cottman Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19111


Associate Director, Cancer Health Disparities and Community Engagement

Attending Surgeon, Gastrointestinal Oncology, Hepaticopancreaticobiliary Surgery, Sarcoma

Professor, Department of Surgical Oncology

Colorectal and SI Cancer TRDG Member

Esophagus, Pancreas, and Liver Cancer TRDG Member

Sarcoma and GIST Cancer TRDG Member

Treatment Focus

Open and minimally invasive surgery for localized and locally advanced cancers, including stomach tumors/cancer; pancreas tumors/cancer; liver metastases and primary liver cancer (Hepatocellular cancer, or HCC); Gallbladder masses/cancer; Bile duct strictures/cancer (cholangiocarcinoma); Small bowel tumors/cancer; colorectal tumors/cancer; extremity and retroperitoneal (intra-abdominal/pelvic) sarcomas.

Research Program

Language(s) Other than English


Treatment Philosophy

Working with cancer patients is a privilege. Cancer patients and their families come to us at a time of great need, and as surgical oncologists we can have a tremendous impact in their lives. To be truly successful, surgical oncologists must work closely and collaboratively with referring physicians and other cancer specialists to ensure that patients receive prompt, personalized, multidisciplinary cancer care that addresses their clinical, emotional and social needs during diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and survivorship.

At academic medical centers like Temple and National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer centers like Fox Chase, we are charged with reducing the burden of cancer in our society and tasked with making sure that all patients have access to cancer care that is more effective, less morbid, safer, and more humane. We do this by continually questioning, refining, and improving what we do—it is that type of applied research that allows us to provide better cancer care to more patients.

Follow on Twitter: @FCCCSurgOnc

Education, Training & Credentials

Educational Background

  • Clinical and Research Fellow, Surgical Oncology, U.T.M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
  • Resident, General Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
  • MPH, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, 1998
  • MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 1993


  • The American Board of Surgery


  • Association for Academic Surgery
  • American College of Surgeons - Fellow
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Society of Surgical Oncology 
  • Society of University Surgeons

Honors & Awards

  • Cancer Control Award, American Cancer Society, 2015
  • Selected Participant, Symposium on Surgical Disparities Research,  National Institute Health-American College of Surgeons, 2015
  • Selected Member, American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, 2015
  • Best Doctors in America®, 2007-14
  • Top Doctor, US News and World Report, 2012 & 2013
  • Selected Participant, State-of-the-Clinical-Science Meeting on Pancreas Cancer, National Cancer Institute, 2007
Patient Stories

Patti Pyle

Stomach Cancer

Patti Pyle

Stomach Cancer

As a professional mental health counselor, I have years of experience helping others work through issues in their own lives. I know the importance of staying positive during difficult times and not letting negative thoughts cloud your mind, especially when important decisions need to be made. But it wasn’t until I went through a hardship of my own that I realized the true importance of that mindset.

Michael Laurenzi

Kidney Cancer;  Pancreatic Cancer

Michael Laurenzi

Kidney Cancer;  Pancreatic Cancer

It's possible that a  tick bite might have saved Mike Laurenzi’s life. In May 2013, at the age of 54, Mike ran a high fever and landed at the Emergency Department near his home in Media, PA. “They examined me, said it was probably just a bug, and sent me home,” he recalled.  Two days later, his fever was still 104.  He returned to his local hospital and was admitted.

John Craig

Liver, Gall Bladder & Bile Duct Cancer

John Craig

Liver, Gall Bladder & Bile Duct Cancer

As far as John Craig is concerned, Dr. Nestor Esnaola is a doctor second to none.  The 73-year-old retired postal worker had been feeling lucky in his life.  Then after the sudden loss of his grandson, John ended up in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer in May 2013.  Tests revealed something more: John had liver cancer.

Research Profile

Research Program

Research Interests

Dr. Esnaola is a formally trained, health services/outcomes researcher with an interest in disparities in cancer treatment/outcomes, as well as comparative effectiveness research and cancer care delivery trials. He currently serves as Multi-Principal Investigator on a multi-state, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities RO1-funded ($1.25 million), NCI Community Oncology Research Program-sponsored trial of enhanced, protocol-driven navigation to increase rates of curative therapy and survival in in African Americans with early stage non-small cell lung cancer.

Dr. Esnaola completed a Master in Business Administration at the University of Tennessee and has a strong interest in optimizing perioperative processes of care and improving surgical quality and safety. He serves as Principal Investigator on an investigator-initial trial of perioperative risk stratification and risk-based, protocol driven management in patients undergoing major elective cancer surgery at Fox Chase Cancer Center. As Leader of the Best Practices Initiative for American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, he also developed several evidence-based, expert panel-rated Best Practice Guidelines designed to prevent common postoperative complications and optimize care of geriatric surgery patients.

In his role as Associate Director or Cancer Health Disparities and Community Engagement at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Dr. Esnaola leads the Office of Community Outreach, as well as the Health Communications and Community Engagement facility which is tasked with promoting cancer research and clinical trials literacy, engaging community partners in potential research opportunities, facilitating/coordinating Cancer Center research activities targeting underserved populations, and ensuring that the Center’s research enterprise continually addresses the cancer burden and needs of our catchment area.

Dr. Esnaola is a senior member of Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Research Review Committee and a standing member of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Health Care Effectiveness and Outcomes Research study section.


Selected Publications

Surgical management of pancreatic neoplasms: what's new? Karachristos A, Esnaola NF.Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2014 Aug;16(8):397. doi: 10.1007/s11894-014-0397-x. Review. PubMed

Phase 2 trial of induction gemcitabine, oxaliplatin, and cetuximab followed by selective capecitabine-based chemoradiation in patients with borderline resectable or unresectable locally advanced pancreatic cancer. Esnaola NF, Chaudhary UB, O'Brien P, Garrett-Mayer E, Camp ER, Thomas MB, Cole DJ, Montero AJ, Hoffman BJ, Romagnuolo J, Orwat KP, Marshall DT.Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2014 Mar 15;88(4):837-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2013.12.030. PubMed

Additional Publications