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Thoracic Surgeon Lebenthal Joins Fox Chase Cancer Center Staff

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 21, 2008)—Thoracic surgeon Abraham "Avi" Lebenthal, M.D., a new resident of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., has joined Fox Chase Cancer Center's surgical oncology department. He has a special interest in the treatment of patients with diseases of the gastro-esophageal junction and esophageal cancer. His advanced training included two additional years focused on minimally invasive approaches to thoracic malignancies, including cancers of the lung and esophagus.

Lebenthal comes to Fox Chase from the division of thoracic surgery at Harvard Medical School's Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where he completed four years of clinical fellowships in one of the world's largest thoracic surgery training programs. He was the first minimally invasive fellow to train in thoracic surgery at Brigham and Women's and gained great experience in the full spectrum of procedures such as video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), advanced laparoscopy, endoluminal diagnostics and therapeutic endoscopy techniques, including bronchoscopy, laser therapy, photo-dynamic therapy and stenting.

"Excellence in modern medicine is about doing things for and not to our patients, about knowing how to tailor a solution for an individual patient," Lebenthal said. "The values that a physician brings with him-his compassion, his ability to smell the roses and to appreciate life-are all key to his understanding of life's bigger picture. These values together with the skills that I've acquired during training enable me to offer the best possible medical care to my patients," Lebenthal believes.

As an instructor at Harvard, Lebenthal was responsible for training residents and fellows in thoracic surgery. He was also staff surgeon in the division of trauma at Brigham and Women's Hospital, routinely managing patients with complex and severe injuries.

Born in Jerusalem, Israel, Lebenthal received his elementary, middle and high school education in the United States and holds dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship. He earned his bachelor's degree in medical science and, in 1993, his doctor of medicine degree at Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem, Israel's premier medical school. In 2003, he earned his master's degree in health administration at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev School of Management in Beer-Sheva, Israel.

Lebenthal's Israeli army service included active duty as battalion physician and platoon commander in an elite infantry unit. He received a Letter of Distinction for Bravery for treating and evacuating critically injured soldiers under fire. He then served as brigade physician for a unit responsible for half of Israel's border with south Lebanon.

Later he gained administrative experience as assistant physician to the chief medical officer of Central Command and as commander of Jerusalem District Army Medical Facilities. His last duty was company commander, as a major in the reserves, in an elite paratrooper brigade, where he commanded the medical company for eight years.

Lebenthal completed seven years of general surgery training at Hadassah Ein-Karem, Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, and passed his general surgery boards in Israel. During his training, he spent a year as senior surgical resident at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City. He began his Harvard fellowship in thoracic surgery in 2004.

"At Harvard, I learned that you are only limited by the expectations of your mind," said Lebenthal said. Reflecting on his military service, he noted that "thoracic surgery is similar to the army special forces in that we are asked to push the envelope every day, the risks are real and success depends on prudent judgment, sound practice and precision of execution."

"I came to Fox Chase because it has three key ingredients for success: a proven track record, a great dedicated team and a population in need of advanced and innovative thoracic surgery," he said. "Most importantly, there is strong institutional support to develop the systems that will enable us to grow."

Lebenthal will work closely with Walter J. Scott, M.D., F.A.C.S., chief of thoracic surgery, who holds the Center's Gloria and Edmund Dunn Chair in Thoracic Surgery.

"I am looking forward to contributing my skills in minimally invasive surgery for esophageal and lung cancers and open surgery for mesothelioma," Lebenthal said. "Together with Fox Chase Cancer Center's internationally known programs in medical and radiation oncology, our team will provide the region's best thoracic cancer care."

Lebenthal is married to Sarit Lebenthal, a teacher currently on maternity leave. They have two daughters and two sons ranging in age from 12 to 8 months.


Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

Media inquiries only, please contact Diana Quattrone at 215-728-7784.

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