Dr. Ciarán Bradley is one of the first doctors in the nation to earn the American Board of Surgery's subspecialty certificate in complex general surgical oncology. Bradley, who joined DuPage Medical Group in 2013, said the accreditation encompasses all the aspects of general surgery involved in cancer.
How did the Wheaton resident find his calling?
"Part of it was a family application," he said in a phone interview. "My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was young. My father was a physician, a radiologist, who dealt with breast cancer for the great majority of his career. I certainly was influenced. … I knew I wanted to be a surgeon, [and] the idea of being involved in the treatment of cancer patients appealed to me the most."
Bradley's parents immigrated to the United States from Ireland in the 1970s, and he grew up spending summer holidays in Ireland, going on to begin his medical education there.
His training continued in Milwaukee, capped by a two-year fellowship at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where he specialized in surgical oncology.
He said all specialties of cancer care now are represented at DuPage Medical Group.
"We're more and more able to take care of patients [with] complicated cancer diagnoses closer to home," said Bradley, who treats children and adults.
He performs both general and cancer surgeries, with a quiver of skills including minimally invasive laparoscopic and robot-assisted procedures. For the latter, robotic arms hold a camera and instruments that are controlled by the surgeon sitting at a 3-D viewing console, providing high-definition, three-dimensional vision.
How difficult is it to learn?
"My generation of surgeons that have trained in the last 10 or 15 years [are] very facile and familiar with laparoscopic surgery through … a small keyhole incision," Bradley said. "When robotic instruments … came along, the transition was not so difficult as one might think. Most of these skills are part of laparoscopic surgery in general. … The instruments allow for a greater freedom of movement; they can twist and turn in directions that the laparoscopic instruments can't."
During his medical education, he published research articles, including studies of the stresses for patients and their families facing serious illness. The insights he gained endure.
"He communicates with patients in a precise and intricate manner while delivering compassionate care with an empathetic approach, working with patients facing cancer diagnoses," said Loren Baer, DuPage Medical Group's director of specialty operations and integrated oncology program. "He spends time to communicate different options, and [to better understand] the unique needs of the patients. I've witnessed interactions. [He is] upbeat and thoughtful and well-respected among physicians, patients and staff."
Away from medicine, Bradley's hobbies include music. He's classically trained on violin, and also plays guitar and mandolin. These days, he says his playing is reserved for family weddings, but he looks forward to sharing his daughter's musical journey this fall, when she turns 4, and decides to flex her fingers on keyboard or strings.