COOKEVILLE – Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s newest physician is looking to take a personalized approach to cancer care.
Dr. Thomas Summers, a specialist in medical oncology and hematology, joined the hospital and Cancer Center team in January.
Originally from New York, Summers was raised on Long Island. He began his journey into medicine after his undergraduate studies at Adelphi University and The State University of New York-Albany. He completed his doctoral program at Palmer University in Davenport, Iowa.
He later moved to Florida where he attended and received his doctorate degree in medicine from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. Following medical school, he served four years on active duty in the United States Navy. He completed a surgical internship year before deploying overseas. He served onboard various US Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, dealing with active duty personnel in the primary care setting.
Following active duty, he resumed residency training in internal medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. It was during his years as a medicine resident that he became drawn to the challenges in his specialty.
“There’s a lot of decision making involved, and there is a close bond with patients,” he said.
He completed his fellowship in medical oncology/hematology at UMDNJ and is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.
In his time at CRMC, he’s been seeing inpatients and outpatients, performing consultations and offering comprehensive management.
“The good news is we really have a much better understanding of how cancers evade our immune system and now there is an increasing number of drugs that can interact with our bodies immune system and enhance its ability to target the cancer,” Summers said. “This is part of what is now referred to as a personalized approach to treating someone’s cancer. These approaches can prolong and improve quality of life, without the usual side effects of non-specific chemotherapy. This is the present and future of cancer care, and it’s very exciting to be a part of.
“In some cases, we have turned the natural history of advanced malignancies into more of a chronic disease,” he added.
“I’m optimistic that as our understanding of the molecular drivers of cancers continues to improve, we will be talking about cures and remission more and more.”
Outside of work, he enjoys the outdoors in the summer months – a factor, he says, in choosing Tennessee. He also likes to travel and spend time with family.
He moved to Cookeville from Ohio where he served as medical director of hematology/oncology at Southern Ohio Medical Center. Previously, he was on staff at Cleveland Clinic Florida.
“The hospital administration has been very receptive and helpful in my transition to Cookeville,” Summers said. “I have practiced in Appalachia for the past seven years, and I enjoy the relationships with patients in this part of the country. I have worked in larger institutions, and I am confident patients can get comprehensive cancer care right here.
“Cookeville has all the amenities of a bigger city,” he added. “I look forward to practicing here and hope to make this my home for many years to come.”
Dr. Thomas Summers is a medical oncologist with Cookeville Regional Medical Center. His office is located in the hospital’s Cancer Center at 1 Medical Center Boulevard. For more information, call (931) 783-2020.