Waddah B. Al-Refaie

Waddah-B-Al-RefaieWaddah B. Al-Refaie, MD, is chief of Surgical Oncology, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and surgeon-in-chief, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. In addition, he is director of the Surgical Outcomes Research Center, a joint program of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Al-Refaie’s expertise is in surgical and oncologic health services and outcomes research. Prior to his appointment at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, he served at the University of Minnesota as an associate professor of surgery and co-director of the Minnesota Surgical Outcomes Research Center.

His interests include surgical oncology, gastrointestinal cancers, soft tissue sarcoma, malignant melanoma and geriatric surgical oncology. He is interested in conducting research on readmission after cancer surgery in older adults, disparities in operable gastric cancer care in rural hospitals and in older adults, and variations in the delivery of multimodality therapy for operable gastric cancer.

Dr. Al-Refaie serves on several national committees, including the Cancer in the Elderly Committee of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and the Clinical Research Program, International Relations Committee and Cancer Care Delivery Research Committee of the American College of Surgeons. In addition, he has served as a mentor for more than 10 surgical oncology residents.

He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Global Surgery, serves as a reviewer for Annals of Surgical Oncology, CANCER and Diseases of the Colon and Rectum, and co-authored a book on breast cancer in Middle Eastern women. His research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, includingAnnals of Surgical Oncology, JAMA Surgery and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Al-Refaie is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and an associate fellow of the Southwestern Surgical Congress. He has won numerous awards, including the Houston Surgical Society Award, the American Society of Clinical Oncology Foundation Merit Award, and an Advanced Care Practitioner Award from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is past president of the Minneapolis Surgical Society and holds memberships in several other professional societies, including the Society of Surgical Oncology, the American Society of Breast Surgeons and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He is a frequently invited speaker at meetings of professional societies, where he presents topics ranging from retroperitoneal sarcoma to surgical treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Dr. Al-Refaie is certified by the American Board of Surgery, and he is fluent in Arabic as well as English.

His medical degree is from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland. He completed an internship and residency in General Surgery at the University of California, San Diego. He continued his training with a fellowship in Surgical Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Research Interests

Dr. Al-Refaie’s research interests include

  • Cancer care in the elderly
  • Variation in cancer care by race and geographic location
  • Disparities in cancer clinical trials
  • Minority participation in clinical trials
  • Access to clinical trials
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors
  • Soft tissue sarcomas
  • Geriatric surgical oncology
  • Surgical outcomes research

Selected Research

Cancer Trials Versus the Real World in the United States

Federal policies have been implemented to mitigate under-enrollment in cancer trials in the United States. In this research, Dr. Al-Refaie and colleagues examined patterns and predictors of enrollment in cancer trials. The investigators determined that broader cancer trials need to be developed to benefit the millions with cancer. The results of this study were published in Annals of Surgery (2011:254:438-442).

Complex Cancer Surgery at Low-Volume Hospitals

Patients at low-volume hospitals typically have worse operative outcomes after complex cancer surgery. Dr. Al-Refaie and colleagues hypothesized that patient-related factors contribute to receipt of complex cancer surgery at low-volume hospitals. Non-white, uninsured patients with increased comorbidities were more likely to have complex cancer surgery at low-volume hospitals. Given the outcome disparities between high- and low-volume hospitals, future policy and research should encourage mechanisms for referral of cancer patients needing surgery to high-volume hospitals. The results of this study have been published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (2012:214:81-87).

View Dr. Al-Refaie's publications on PubMed

  • Research Areas
  • Health Services/Quality/Outcomes
  • Oncology