Dr. I. Benjamin Paz is a City of Hope surgical oncologist, specializing in breast, gastrointestinal and rectal cancers, and bone and soft tissue tumors. He specializes in minimally invasive surgery and has developed one of the leading centers for minimally invasive surgery in oncology in California. He received his medical degree in Chile and received further training at the University of Arizona.
He has also served as vice chair of City of Hope's Department of Surgery, where he has helped to expand their program dramatically and develop a number of patient-focused, multidisciplinary clinics.
Dr. Paz has been with City of Hope since 1990 and the City of Los Angeles reminds him of his native hometown--Santiago, Chile.
"In some ways, Santiago is similar to Los Angeles, and in others, quite different. Santiago is very large and cosmopolitan, very much like Los Angeles. Nevertheless, the United States is very ethnically and religiously diverse (unlike Chile), so in every field of work one needs to prepare to address those nuances," he says.
Dr. Paz intended to become a bio-medical engineer, but had to attend medical school as part of the training. He fell in love with surgery. "At first I thought I'd become a neurosurgeon. But back in those days, the results of neurosurgery were not very promising. I discovered oncology and fighting cancer, and instinctively knew this was what I wanted to do with my career."
At first, he did not plan to stay in the United States. But when looking for the right place to continue advanced studies, he discovered City of Hope. "What really impressed me was their mission--'There is no profit in curing the body if in the process, we destroy the soul.' The people at City of Hope really live by that goal and abide by this philosophy. City of Hope was the first place I considered, and I knew I wanted to work here right away."
When treating Hispanic patients, Dr. Paz says speaking the same language is easy. But there are other important factors--such as culture and other elements--one should consider in order to really understand the patient and make him or her feel comfortable with treatment.
It is important to consider the patient's religious beliefs, their background and family structure, he adds.
"It is absurd to think that all 'Hispanics' are the same. Chileans, Mexicans, Argentines, Colombians and all the rest are...