Dr. Jacques Fontaine is a thoracic surgeon and the section head of the Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Program at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida.

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About Dr. Jacques Fontaine

Dr. Jacques Fontaine treats lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma, esophageal cancer, thymoma and Pancoast tumor. He is also the director of Moffitt’s Robotic Thoracic Fellowship Program.

Fontaine is board certified in thoracic surgery and general surgery.

He joined the Department of Thoracic and GI Oncology at Moffitt in 2011. He became the head of the mesothelioma program in 2016, developing a multidisciplinary approach to treatment that has made Moffitt a leader in a very specialized field.

“It’s a team approach. Collaboration is the key to treatment of mesothelioma,” he said. “You don’t treat it with just chemotherapy or just radiation or just surgery. You need all three. It’s a very aggressive cancer, but a cancer that can be treated aggressively. I’ve always been intrigued by the challenge of mesothelioma.”

Trained Under David Sugarbaker in Boston

Fontaine has been involved in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma since 2006. He trained as chief resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he worked alongside Dr. David Sugarbaker, a treatment pioneer and founder of the International Mesothelioma Program.

The mesothelioma team at Moffitt — surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pulmonologists, nurses — meet weekly to review each case, making sure their approach is well synchronized, and personalized, to benefit each patient.

“When it comes to mesothelioma, it’s important to get specialized care and expertise,” he said. “Not all patients can benefit from this therapy, but that’s where the specialist is so important. You need someone who can recognize it. The patients who can be picked out and recognized early, can really benefit from what is being offered.”

Fontaine previously developed the thoracic surgery program at a teaching hospital affiliated with Brown University medical school in Providence, Rhode Island. He started his career in thoracic surgery at the University of Montreal.

Diverse Background Appeals to All

In Tampa, Fontaine also serves as an associate professor at the University of South Florida.

He graduated from McGill University medical school in Montreal. He completed a cardiothoracic surgical residency at the University of Massachusetts.

After growing up in several different countries, Fontaine is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Arabic. He communicates well with patients from diverse backgrounds, attracting them from across the country.

“When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, they are usually in a fragile, emotional state, and it’s nice if you’re able to make them feel comfortable, if you can speak their language,” he said. “It’s natural for me.”

In his career, Fontaine has developed an expertise in robotic surgery, which is less invasive, reduces blood loss and provides a better preoperative evaluation on cancer spread.