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A day in the life of Consultant Oncologist Dr Sophie Papa

A day in the life of Consultant Oncologist Dr Sophie Papa

Run us through a typical day for you?

My working week has many components to it – no two days are the same. I work as a consultant oncologist treating melanoma. This involves time in clinic looking after patients, receiving a range of therapies for advanced melanoma, and working with our teams on the ward to care for patients who need to be in hospital for part of their care. I am involved in clinical trials in melanoma but also in very new approaches to treating cancer using immunotherapy. Working to set up trials, recruit patients and caring for them once they are involved in a study is a large part of my working week.  I am also an academic. I can spend time carrying out experiments in the laboratory, discussing and planning the work we do with my team of talented researchers, teaching, writing to fund the work we do and to publish it when it is ready. 

What signs should patients look out for to alert them to see a consultant?

If you see a new mole that is growing or an old one that is changing go to your GP. If something does not feel right check it out. Follow your instincts. 

What one case are you most proud of?

 This is a difficult question. There is not one case, just bits of many. A good day is one where I go home feeling like I have made someone who is frightened more sure and confident. Personally I think that being good at talking someone through their disease, the treatment and the future with care and consideration is vital. Over and over again I hear people tell me that the worst part is often fear of what you do not know. If I can leave a family less fearful then I am happy. 

What do you enjoy most about your work?

 The combination of constant learning at the cutting edge of cancer discovery science combined with the responsibility of looking after people at very difficult moments in their lives. I love my job and feel very fortunate for that. 

Why did you want to become a Consultant Oncologist?

 Well, for all the reasons in the last question. My job requires good communication skills, empathy, responsibility and a thirst for new information. 

What are the latest developments in oncology?

 Immunotherapy. I have been involved in immune therapy research for nearly a decade. It is so exciting to see it really change the face of the way we are treating cancer. 

What is it like working at London Bridge Hospital?

 I was a junior doctor on the oncology ward at London Bridge some years ago so I have a view over a number of years and different sides of the hospital. It is great to work somewhere that is so well run and where the focus on quality of care is so high.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

 I have a very young family so most of the things we love to do (skiing, travelling) have been squeezed out a little. Or, to put it differently, I like going to the park, painting, reading stories…
 

Published: December 23, 2016

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